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distributor advertising chips --  they show distributor and their rim mold

Most casinos and clubs would want their names on their gambling chips for at least two reasons -- (1) it gave a cachet to the place, and (2) a distinctive name or logo would help deter counterfeiting or "ringing in" chips.  The inscription would go in the center of the chip, either (1) hot-stamped by the gambling supply distributor; he would apply the gold or silver foil himself using his hot-stamp machine die on his inventory of chips  (an example is the "Wills Super Gem" inscription hot-stamped on the yellow chip above); or (2) inlaid by the distributor's manufacturer when the chip (slug) was being molded  (an example is the round, colored, printed, coated, thin inlaid litho on the Marion & Company chip above) .

Colored inserts (edge spots) could also be ordered to help deter counterfeiting.  These are "inserted" during the manufacturing process.  The Marion chip has six peach inserts, and the green Mason and Co. chip next to it has two pink inserts. Click here to view the five stages of the manufacture of an inlaid chip with inserts.

A third and very interesting way to deter counterfeiting is the use of a chip mold which would leave a unique embossed design around the rim.  The eight chips in the bottom two rows, above, all have such embossed, recessed rim designs.  The idea was for each gambling supply distributor to own his own one or more exclusive molds.  Using these molds, the distributor could offer "protected" chips to his customers.  He could guarantee that no other person in the world could ever have the same chip.  Take the yellow Wills chip, above, as an example.  It belonged to B. C. Wills and Co., which owned the "Large Greek Key" mold.  If a customer with the initials "R. L. E." wanted to purchase an inexpensive set of protected poker chips, he would place an order with Wills, giving his initials and the style of type they were to appear in.  Wills would check its index card alphabetical records to see if anyone had ordered chips with those initials in that style of type.  If the search result was negative, the customer would get his chips with those initials in that type style on the distinctive B. C. Wills Large Greek Key mold chips, and B. C. Wills would create an index card for the customer to insure that they would never make chips for anyone else with those initials-type style.  In the future, anyone could go to another gambling supply house and order chips with the same "R. L. E." initials, same type style, same colors, BUT NOT with the Large Greek Key rim mold design!

The distributor was happy to use chips with his exclusive rim mold design.  As many prestigious clubs used chips with that mold, it would advertise the distributor.  The mold would serve as product promotion, brand identification and a symbol of quality.  A byproduct  of this is that today if a chip collector comes across a chip with a particular rim mold, the latter helps him identify the distributor, the approximate age of the chip and the part of the country in which  the chip may have been used.  Some of the index card records have been preserved for certain companies --  Mason (hub mold),  Jones Brothers (large squares), T. R. King Mfg. (crowns), Paulson (hat and cane), etc.  A linked index card would not answer every question, but it would at least show the quantity of chips ordered, a date and a name and address.

The prominance and location of the distributor would help determine which molds would be more likely to be used. Click here to see Appendix C of The Chip Rack.  Appendix C enumerates the number of Nevada chips for each rim mold design.

For this project,  I am pretty much sticking to molds that are OLD, CLAY and EMBOSSED........Thus, I will not include metal-plastic ones like the one in the upper left, above, from Reliable Engraving Co., San Leandro CA. ( Mel Jung specializes in these brass core and bi-metal/plastic chips.  They were made from about 1971 to the late 1990's.  They lost favor because of the expense of the chips and their lack of pictorial Chipco-like graphics required for limited edition chips.  Only two Nevada casino use them today, and both are expected to discontinue use in 2001.. Click here and  here  for pictures of metal core chips.  Click here for an example of an aluminum core without the plastic., and click here to see a  brass core $5 Ranch House chip with and without the plastic. ).......  I also tend to stay away from the multitudinous and recent plastic-nylon chips with inlaid [i.e., not embossed] design rims like the three right hand chips in the upper row.  (Incidentally, the blue chip in the upper row really has no rim mold; it is termed a plain (flat) mold chip.)...........The embossed mold designs were always RECESSED (they couldn't stand out in relief because then the relatively flat chips would not stack properly).  For scanning purposes, I often pressed soap into the recessed mold design so as to highlight the mold design, as I did with the Nevada mold chip above.  While I may have missed some molds, I at least have included all the venerable ones.

It is almost impossible to date certain mold designs because of the lack of records and the questionable memories of old timers.  Even if we knew for sure the period certain chip molds were produced, there is nothing to prevent a club from using them for decades after the distributor abandoned the mold.  An index card record for a chip, say a monogram chip, tells us just the name and address of the person who ordered the chips or to whom they were shipped; the chips could have been used in the next state or across the country.  Some molds became "open" (or were originally open  --  not "protected") and were used by many distributors.  Gene Trimble has reported that many U. S. molds are now being copied in Asia.

In preparing this educational project I am grateful to Allan Myers for providing a list of the dates of many molds, Jim Blanchard for identifying many of the mold distributors, and Bill Borland's "Blue Book of Casino Chips," which perked my interest in collecting all the old molds.  The "Blue Book" pictured and identified some 70 different molds.  The Herz' books (cited below) were also very helpful, particularly with the mold abbreviations that are widely used today.  Other help was provided by the approximately 100 old gambling supply catalogs I own and many  gambling distributor advertising chips, some of which have been pictured here.  The personnel at many gambling supply houses provided valuable information, as did the CC&GTCC's newsletter, "Casino Chip and Token News",  the Chipboard.com bulletin board  and conversations with many collectors, especially Gene Trimble.

I would appreciate any help for this project -- both additional or corrected information, and for selling me chips for molds I have no example for sale.  You will note that in the mold pages in the price column I sometimes say "None for sale......Find me some chips to list here."  That means that I need 10 to 100 chips to sell to the public for $1 or $2 above what I pay.  I'll acknowledge any help I get.

# World-Wide Casino Exchange (Bill Borland), "The Official Blue Book of Casino Chips and Gaming Tokens," (Las Vegas NV; no date, but about 1988; out of print)
# Howard Herz, "Harvey's Guide to Collecting Gaming Checks and Chips," (High Sierra Numismatics, Minden NV; 1985 -- probably out of print)
# Howard W. Herz and Kregg L. Herz, "A Collector's Guide to Nevada Gaming Checks & Chips," (Whitman Coin Products, Western Publ. Co., Racine WI; 1995)
Chequer's Magazine (on line) , particularly Gene Trimble on Chips, and bulletin board.
#  Casino Chips and Gaming Tokens Collectors Club  home page.  The club publishes an informative quarterly magazine ("Casino Chip and Token News").   Click here for the Club's reference page.
#  (a) "The Chip Rack, A Price Guide to the Casino Chips and Checks of Nevada," Allan Myers, Michael Knapp and Ernest Wheelden; KMW Publishing Co., PO Box 17002, Louisville KY 40217.  Each year an updated edition is published.  You can purchase the book from the Publishing Co. or any chip supply outfit..........(b) "The Gaming Table" by the same authors is extremely helpful in identifying many old chips.  It lists the chip inscription (eg's., a monogram like "JF," or a simple name like "Imperial") in alphabetical order with notations as to the mold design, and then gives the club name, opening and closing dates, etc.; and if it has no known attribution, it will say that.  The book also has a small section showing pictures (including Chinese characters) that appear on chips that have no English letters; it tries to identify them.
The Chipboard.com bulletin board.
# Michael Knapp and Dick Covington,  "Chipology 101 Seminar" , which is part of the CC&GTCC's web site.  It is an excellent 45 page on-line course on the main points of chips -- inlays, inserts, molds, foreign, tokens, etc., etc.
# Pete Rizzo's Las Vegas Casino Chips & Collectibles also has a list of pictures of old molds.  When you get to the site, click the map next to "Casino Chip Molds."
# casino vendors directory
# Rich Hanover's "Plain mold, litho inlaid Poker Chips"

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