Hello, Mr. Chips!

Aug 1, 2005 4:14 AM


Casino chip collectors will descend on Las Vegas this week for their annual national convention that will feature rare and collectible gaming chips and tokens, as well as other casino memorabilia.

The Casino Chip and Gaming Tokens Collectors Club will convene its 13th annual convention, Wednesday through Saturday, at the Riviera Hotel & Casino.

The convention, which is open to the public, will feature trade sessions, educational forums a banquet and auction.

The focal point of the convention will be the show floor where collectors and enthusiasts of casino memorabilia, both past and present, can view chips, tokens, silver strikes, ashtrays, room keys, dice, playing cards, matchbooks, postcards, photographs and even casino deeds.

More than 100 vendors will be displaying, selling and trading their wares.

"This is the only show that brings together collectors from all over the world," said Mike Skelton, president of the Casino Chip and Gaming Tokens club. "These people collect anything that has a casino logo on it."

One of the highlights of the exhibition will be the display of the Platinum Collection, believed to be the finest collection of Nevada gaming chips and tokens in the world.

The Platinum Collection includes more than 2,400 gaming chips and 3,800 gaming tokens representing Nevada casinos from the past 40 years. Its value is estimated at more than $1 million.

The collection is named for the unique platinum dollar gaming token that the Franklin Mint made for William Harrah in 1965. It consists of virtually every known specimen issued by Nevada casinos, including some rare pieces from Reno, Lake Tahoe and early Las Vegas.

"Many of the collection pieces are very desirable, extremely rare and not obtainable today," said James Campiglia, owner of the collection and organizer of the convention. "This is undoubtedly the single finest collection of Nevada chips and tokens in the world."

Campiglia said the Platinum Collection will be on display throughout the convention, and that it is scheduled to go up for auction on ebay, August 18 through September 18.

In addition to the special collection, there will be thousands of chips on display and available for sale.

Gaming chips can range from $1 and $5 "house chips" to obsolete chips from casinos such as the Sands, which could be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Some chips are valued for their rarity, some for artistic value.

"Chips are like small pieces of art with many different colors and designs," Campiglia said. "People collect them for fun and investment, along with the chance to own a little bit of history."

Campiglia adds that many collectors focus on chips from certain areas of the country, like Las Vegas, Atlantic City or Southern riverboats. Others target a chips edge mold, like the "hub," "rectangle" or "arrow" die.

Chips vary in denomination, ranging from 10 cents up to $100 for the old ones, and up to $100,000 for a modern day cheque.

Campiglia said chips are rated — similar to minted coins — according to three main characteristic: their ware, inlay or hot stamp and edges.

"The old casinos used metal racks on the blackjack tables," Campiglia said. "When chips were slammed in there all day long, they became chipped. As the hobby matured, premiums were paid for chips in the very best condition."

In addition to the shows and exhibitions, the convention will feature an opening night banquet and awards ceremony, which every year honors casinos for the best collectible chips and tokens.

The gala’s keynote speaker will be Richard Goeglein, former president and CEO of several major gaming companies, including Harrah’s Hotels, Holiday Corporation and Aladdin Gaming.

The Casino Chips and Gaming Tokens Collectors Club was formed in 1988 as part of the Numismatic Association. It currently has about 7,000 members from around the world.