Great Find: Scarce 1912 Chicago Club, Chicago, Illinois,
ONE WHITE die cut inlaid poker chip, made by USPC Co.
DESCRIPTION: "The Chicago Club, founded in 1869, is an
exclusive private business and social club located in downtown Chicago.
Its membership has included many of Chicago's most prominent businessmen,
politicians, and families," per Wikipedia Encyclopedia. So some of the most
influential people in the country might have been handling these chips almost
100 years ago! ... ... ... I noticed this cute reference on the bottom of
the Wikipedia page: "Chicago's Ace of Clubs - How difficult is it to get
in? Don't Ask" Anderson, John (April 11, 1982)."
The chip was made by the U.S. Playing Card Co. and is probably
from about 1912, but at least from 1919. In brief, here is the story: Howdy
Herz, years ago, photographed the pages of the chip sample volumes at the
U.S. Playing Card Co. library. (I happen to have a set of the photos.) From
those photos, Kregg's Guide to USPC chips was made. Some of the "CC" chip
designs look similar. Looks like the ones shown in this auction were missed
for the Guide .
Picture #1, above, shows the photo card of the USPC page that
lists this chip. Two chip designs are shown on that card -- the CC chip and
a TFB chip. (Note: the chips were attached to the sample pages through small
holes drilled into the chips; the chip in this auction has no holes, of course.)
Small typed notations were glued to the pages, under the chip samples, by
USPC people at that time. As you can see in picture #3, the label for the
TFB chip is dated "1/9/12." There is no typed date given for the CC chip
-- the typed notation merely says, "MADE FOR CHICAGO CLUB, CHICAGO, ILL."
There are also handwritten notations, "reorder 10/2/19, Sept. 27th
1920, and Dec. 10, 1924," so the chips are at least that old.
MORE ABOUT THIS FAMOUS CLUB: To gild the lily, here is
some more information from Wikipedia, and pictures of a Chicago Club matchbook
showing the old logo (virtually the same as on the chips), and a postcard
showing the old club building (where these chips were first used), which
was torn down and replaced in 1929. (Both pictures courtesy of David C. Brown.)
Also shown is the modern logo I copied from the Club's log-in page.
In 1982 a Chicago Tribune editor was able to obtain limited access
to the club building. (The club's firm ban on press photographers apparently
held as the Tribune produced four water-colour paintings of the club interior
in lieu of photographs.) From the Trib's report:
"… [T]he interior splendor of the Chicago Club is as private
as a stately home in England, which it much resembles in décor. Indeed,
few pedestrians passing by the eight-story red-granite clubhouse at Van
Buren and Michigan [in Chicago, near Lake Michigan] even know what the place
is. Club members – with such names as Field, Pullman, Lincoln, McCormick,
and Blair – may have shaped Chicago history. But they also have developed
a sense of privacy that politely but firmly excludes: 1) The entire world,
except for the club's 1,200 carefully selected members; 2) Until recently,
women; and 3) Reporters and photographers. "We'll fight to the death on
that one," growls one club board member…
An introduction into the business high society that runs the
Chicago Club has the flavor of "being a debutante," as one member puts it.
How do you get in? Don't ask. How tough is it to join? In a word, very. Not
only is there a long waiting list, but an applicant needs a sponsoring member,
a seconder, lots of letters of support, and a good deal of patience. Most
applicants test the waters first, so formal rejections are few. But not
even the well-connected can breeze in. As one recent entrant recalls: "I
knew most leading members when I arrived in Chicago, and my sponsor was a
senior club member. But he had to take me – personally – to the business
offices of all 12 club directors. No, we couldn't do it by phone. We had
to book appointements, then make small-talk for half an hour in each place."…
Historians might argue that the Chicago Club no longer has the
power it wielded in the days when its "millionaires' table" was the lunchtime
gathering place of Marshall Field, George Pullman, N. K. Fairbank, John
Crerar, and a half-dozen others, each worth millions in the days when that
sum meant something. "Everything to be done in Chicago was discussed by
that group, and then word was passed out", as Stanley Field put it. … But
a visitor, seated on a lobby sofa, and those who sweep in for lunch, could
hardly disagree with the recent pecking-order manual, "Who Runs Chicago?"
Its conclusion: "The Chicago Club is the center of power in Chicago. It is
mandatory for the city's biggest executives to join it, unless they want
to be considered not-so-big executives. There are some society matrons who
rank the Casino Club above the Chicago. But hell, you can't make many deals
sitting around playing bridge with a a lot of old biddies." "
The Chicago Club has been ranked as the 8th "most connected" (made
up of the most influential members) organization in the country (of all
the think tanks, policy-planning groups, social clubs, trade associations,
and opinion-shaping groups in the U.S.!) -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Club
CONDITION: used, but OK, no problems. Better than picture.
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