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My guess is many folks who read this column have no idea what plaques are. And no, it is not the plaque in your arteries or on your teeth.

Plaques are usually rectangular; but they also may be oval shaped as well. They function in the same manner as casino chips and have been used in casinos around the world for quite some time. They used to be popular in Las Vegas, too!

Typically, plaques tend to be used in more high-class settings like chemin de fer, which is a French phrase meaning railroad or the railway. Chemin de fer may also refer to the original version of the card game baccarat when it was introduced to France.

Do you remember James Bond? In several of his movies he would toss a rectangular piece of plastic, resin or whatever the plaque was made of onto the felt as he wagered tremendous amounts of money in European casinos. Those are plaques, and a great many collectors want them.

In Las Vegas, several casinos used to use plaques in their baccarat games. Christine (my wife) and I have been around long enough to have played baccarat at the large tables where dealers dealt from wooden or plastic shoes, not unlike the shoes that hold decks of cards at the blackjack tables these days. Players would pass these around just like James Bond.

However, by the time we started playing plaques were a gone item! Not so in Europe where they are still used in many casinos.

Because of their scarcity here, plaques are now a highly collectible item. Some of the most ornamental ones are coveted by collectors all over the world.

Two plaques are pictured here. You can see more with my column online at

Next month, we will delve into swizzle sticks. You won’t believe what you see!

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