Set of 4 rare chips -- Crest and Seal "100" and 3 litho inlay
club poker chips, USPC-made: 1935 illegal TEN-F Club, Galveston, Texas,
DESCRIPTION: Up for auction here are the four chips in
the top picture above -- the 1, 5, 25 and 100. I have only four sets of
these left. The impending storm reminded me of these chips. Till I received
these chips in 2006 from a non-chip collector Texan, who lives near Galveston,
no chip collector knew these chips still existed. The only known chips were
in the U. S. Playing Card Co. sample-order volumes in the USPC museum (third
picture above). Using the information in those volumes, the chips are listed
(on the last page) of "Kregg's Guide to the Records of The United States
Playing Card Co." From these records, we know that these four different
chips were ordered, December 30, 1935, by the major gambling supply house,
B. C. Wills and Co., which supplied chips and equipment to illegal clubs
throughout the country. The first three chips have the small greek key rim
mold of the B C Wills Co., and the fourth chip (the red 100) is a serrated-edge
crest and seal chip (no rim mold).
I am quite certain that they were used in one of the many illegal
gambling clubs that flourished in Galveston, Texas, from the 1920's to the
50's. The person who gave me the chips furnished this information:
"I am positive that the chip[s] came from one of the
casinos in Galveston, because it was given to the son of one of the Texas
Ranger captains who raided the casinos in the 1950's. It came from my father
(the best friend of the Texas Ranger's son), who then gave it to me. ....
.... My family has either been in law enforcement or connected to it in some
fashion since the 1900's. And my father has great true stories of things
that went on from turn of the century to around the 1970's. . .... ....
... I can't come up with TEN-F, but my guess is that since Galveston is
a sea coast town and has a pirate history that it was probably some club
called "The TEN Fathoms". Almost everything there was named something like
Notice how the chip design is so very similar to the (also red, serrated
crest and seal) chip of the Hollywood Dinner Club, pictured below this description,
another USPC-made chip in the Kregg book. The H.D.C. was the fanciest club
in the Galveston area. It was open from the 1920's to 1957, when it was
raided by police.
An expert on Texas illegal clubs emailed me this:
"Received chips, much obliged. The 100 denom C&S
appears identical to the HDC 100 - Hollywood Dinner Club except for the [words].
The serrated rim is the same, same colors (chip and lettering), same diamond
logo. That can not be an accident. I suspect that they [TEN-F chips] were
for an exclusive high dollar VIP card game somewhere on the [Galveston] Island,
probably an invitation-only game without the nightclub business. If the TEN-F
were a "show" club, I think we would have seen some advertising on some of
the headliners like we have for the HDC and other downtown clubs. In terms
of the order, 1600 chips is 16 boxes, they could fit into a suitcase and
easily be used at a residence or hotel room."
It is possible that the place where these TEN-F chips were used
was at or near the intersection of 10th and F -- 10th Street (renamed "Bertolino's
Vw." today) and Avenue F ("Church Street" today). Using a Google map finder
for Galveston, I see that Bertolino's is the only street between 9th St.
and 11th St. And going from north to south, currently there are these street
names without interruption:
- "Ave. D"
- "Post Office St." (Ave E?)
- "Church St." (Ave F?)
- "Winnie St." (Ave G?)
- "Ball St." (Ave H?)
- "Sealy St." (Ave I?)
- "Ave J/Broadway St."