Good-bye, Mr. Chips collection

Oct 10, 2005 3:44 AM

It’s not unusual to see chips and tokens from Nevada casinos pop up on eBay and other online auction sites.

It is unusual when the chips and tokens comprise the world famous "Platinum Collection," and the minimum first bid is a cool $1 million.

The Platinum Collection is owned by a Denver man who wishes to remain anonymous. His collection opens to eBay bidders on Tuesday and closes on October 21.

The collection is made up of 2,400 gaming chips and 3,800 tokens from Nevada casinos that date from the 1950s.

The collection is named for a platinum $1 token made by the Franklin Mint in 1965 for Reno gaming magnate Bill Harrah. It consists of virtually every known specimen issued by Nevada casinos, including some rare pieces from Reno, Lake Tahoe and early Las Vegas.

It’s the one-of-a-kind items that set this collection apart.

"It’s not a reproducible collection," says Howard Herz, owner of Gaming Archaeology and author of the soon-to-be published Illustrated Standard Guide to Nevada Gaming Tokens. "If you went out today and attempted to build a similar one, you couldn’t do it. You’d have to own pieces from this collection in order to try."

Chip consultant James Campiglia, co-author of The Official U.S. Casino Chip Price Guide, agreed: "Many of the collection pieces are very desirable, extremely rare and not obtainable today. Chips are like small pieces of art with many different colors and designs. People collect them for fun and investment purposes, along with owning a little bit of history."

The Denver owner of the collection assembled the collection over a 40-year period and has never sold any of the pieces.

Chips in the Platinum Collection date from the beginning era of legalized gambling in Nevada in 1931, to rare issues used at the large Las Vegas strip casinos, as well as those in Lake Tahoe and Reno. Many are from clubs that were shuttered years ago.

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

Some chips are valued for their rarity, some for their 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."

If you have an extra million dollars sitting around the house, check out the Platinum Collection. Of course, you’ll need a computer with Internet access to submit your eBay bid.