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Rare new find -- club chip of 1950's Frolics Club, Cicero, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) (This page is based on an eBay auction of mine.)

DESCRIPTION: I am pleased to be offering for buy-it-now this important, exciting new find. Until now, no gambling chips were known to exist from this Cicero, Illinois, Mafia-controlled club, which was owned by Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa, who rose to the top level of the Chicago Mafia, the "Outfit." (Cicero is a small town that borders Chicago.) I discovered these chips, and only I have any for sale. I have only 10 of these chips left.

Other Chicago chip collectors and I have documented the tie-in between Aiuppa, the Frolics and these chips:

  • Cicero, the Frolics and Aiuppa. Cicero and the Frolics catered to the gambling, strip club and brothel trade for many years. The Frolics-Aiuppa connection is mentioned in dozens of books and articles. ... ..... .. One 1954 Chicago Tribune article is reproduced below; it mentions that Aiuppa was arrested at the Frolics nightclub in a gambling raid, and that he described himself as the manager of the club. ... ... .... Also below, from a 1964 Chicago Tribune article, is a picture of a policeman blocking the door of the Frolics as part of a major police crackdown on gambling and vice in Cicero. In that article the Tribune reported that "Sheriff Richard B. Ogilvie took jurisdiction after he charged Cicero police had failed to close gambling joints and vice dives." The article said that the Frolics at 4811 Cermack Rd. was operated by Cicero "gambling boss" Joe Aiuppa, and was ordered closed for not displaying its state liquor license. "Olgilvie said Aiuppa and Sam [Momo] Giancana, now the top man in the Chicago area crime syndicate, control gambling and vice operations in Cicero," the article concluded. [Giancana was Front Boss of the Chicago Mob from 1957 to 1966.] Note the caption under the picture, identifying the club as the Frolics "lounge." The marque probably says "All Star Review -- Entertainment." At the right, above the Schlitz beer sign, the letters "the F" are probably the start of "the Frolics." ... .... ..... Dave Brown, a researcher on Chicago gambling and a chip collector, confirms that the chip is from Aiuppa's Frolics and provided me with this email information:
    I'd agree that the order card [pictured below in this auction] looks consistent with it being Aiuppa's place. ... ...... Also the date on the card is consistent with when Frolics was active. .... ...... Frolics was at 4811-4813 W. Cermak Rd, in Cicero, and was open at least 1950-1961. It could have been around longer, but for sure it was open during that time frame. Frolics was also a strip club and handbook [horse-racing bookie place]. The gambling would have been in a back room or upstairs. If there was "heat," they had other locations nearby they would move the gambling to. Aiuppa was arrested at a dice game there in 1954 and claimed to be the manager. The FBI considered Aiuppa to be the owner of the club, but there most likely would have been a front man. Gambling in that spot goes back to the Capone era. In the 1930s it was known as the 4811 Club and the 4813 building was the Minerva restaurant, owned by Fenton Mangan. In 1934 the Minerva was the site of the Fred Goetz hit. Goetz was one of the St Valentines Day Massacre shooters.

  • Pictured below is the actual order card from the Taylor & Co. (a well-known gambling/chip supply company, partly owned by Aiuppa and located in Cicero at 4848 25th St.) that made the chips on their proprietary/exclusive "T" rim mold clay gambling chips (seen on the chip in this auction). Note that the card shows that these "chocolate"-colored chips were made and sold through Taylor, as early as May 8, 1958; the card also shows a sketch of the exact same "Frolics" monogram and numeral 5 hot-stamp design/logo as is on the Frolics chip auctioned here. The "T" mold was used for "protected" chips -- that means that Taylor advertised that once ordered by one customer, that hot-stamped design could never be used/ordered by someone else on a T-mold chip. The dates correspond to Aiuppa's Frolics. This order card did not include the address; but that is consistent with what Gene Trimble told me -- that the lack of an address would mean that the chips were for a Chicago-area club and would therefore be picked up in person, thus an address was not needed. (The Taylor & Co. order card records are on a pdf file, from which I took a screen shot of the Frolics card and converted it into the jpeg for this auction. The records in the pdf file are incomplete, but fortunately the card shown here survived.)

  • Provenance: Finally, the person who sold me the chips is a long-time Chicago-area resident who got the chips from his mother, who worked at the Frolics as the hostess for the club and picked up the cancelled (holed) chips there and gave them to her son to play with. He was a 10-year old lad at the time -- he recalls Aiuppa joshing with him at the club! He related to me this youthful memory of the place -- "[I] remember the inside of the Frolics was kind of a scary place .... No plush interior, just a very long Bar with Strippers behind it, very dark and then there was the back rooms [never got back there in my youth] in which gambling took place."

MORE ON CICERO: -- The Frolics was in Cicero, which is a township that borders Chicago. It is a mere mile or two from the heart of Chicago. For a long time Cicero was known for its "anything goes" sin city gambling and vices. Al Capone had his headquarters in Cicero. Author Gary Potter writes, "During 1924 in the aftermath of one of the bloodiest campaigns in U.S. history, Al Capone's puppet candidate was elected as Mayor of Cicero, a city which became known as one of the country's most wide open cities as well as a power-base for Capone." The Frolics "nightclub" was originally at 5818 26th St. in Cicero. Then it was at the heart of the famous "Strip" in Cicero -- 4811-4813 Cermak Rd. (22nd St.).

SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF AIUPPA:

Starting about l925 Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa was linked to and worked with John Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, John Moore (a/k/a Claude Maddox) and the Al Capone gang. He was a gunman and driver for Capone, and was given the territory of Cicero to run. Aiuppa gradually rose up through the ranks to the top of the Outfit, operating several gambling establishments in Cicero, Illinois. This included book making and underground casinos with secret entrances. Auippa would become the perennial number two or three man in the Outfit, working out of the spotlight under leaders such as Sam "Momo" Giancana or Tony Accardo. In Jason Mulligan's list of bosses, Aiuppa is listed as "Front Boss" of the Chicago "Outfit" from 1971 to 1986... .... .... In June 1975, Aiuppa may have participated in the decision to kill Giancana. Some crime figures claimed that the CIA killed Giancana due to his role in the failed assassination plots against Cuban President Fidel Castro. However, there is no evidence to substantiate those theories. The FBI suspected the Outfit killed Giancana because he refused to share his offshore gambling profits from Mexico. Other Giancana allies (such as Johnny Roselli) were killed around the time of Giancana's death. ..... ..... ....... In 1986, Aiuppa was convicted of skimming profits from five Las Vegas casinos and received 28 years in prison. That was (the caper involving the Argent Corporation, the Teamster's Pension Fund loan, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, etc.). It was rumored that Aiuppa ordered the execution of Tony "The Ant" Spilotro in March 1986 in retaliation for this sentence. Spilotro had been Aiuppa's representative in Las Vegas and Aiuppa supposedly blamed him for his skimming arrest. Spilotro and his brother Michael were found beaten to death and buried in a cornfield only four miles away from a large property owned by Aiuppa near Morocco, Indiana. Aiuppa was released from prison at age 89. On February 22, 1997, Joseph Auippa died of natural causes in Las Vegas. In the film Casino, actor Pasquale Cajano's character, Remo Gaggi, is loosely based on Aiuppa. The cornfield murders of the Spilotro brothers is also recreated in this film. ..... ....... .....He died in 1997, age 89. You may read a short article about Aiuppa here. (I thank John Binder and David Brown for much of the information in this auction description and the Chicago Tribune articles cited here.)

CONDITION: very fine, minor use, neatly cancelled by drill hole. (I don't know of any un-drilled Frolics chips.) The chip is the same on both sides.

I HAVE BEEN AN AVID POKER CHIP COLLECTOR FOR MANY YEARS. CHECK MY AUCTIONS REGULARLY.
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