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The Pledge Where Can I Get Slabbed Chips? Slab Alert

Slab Alert
July 4 2005

The following post was made by CC&GTCC President Mike Skelton on the club bulletin board yesterday.  It relates to IGS (International Grading Services) previously known to us and documented as PGS (Professional Grading Services) of Chatanooga, Tennessee.  The full thread can be read here.

....Posted below is an email I received from a slabbing company that seems to be intent on imposing slabbed chips and tokens on the hobby, whether we want them or not. I spoke with the gentleman who sent the email last week and we had a conversation in which I expressed to him my personal opposition to this practice, the Board’s opposition to this practice and our member’s opposition to this practice.

Please read the email and then go to their webpage on grading chips. There are some very disturbing contradictions that should be apparent. They became even more disturbing during the conversation when I questioned him about these contradictions.

First, cleaning chips, if not done properly, can damage the hot stamp and/or the inlay if water is used. “Other cleaning agents” could damage just about any chip.

Second, they “purchased the appropriate books” to learn about chips, but their website says they have “expert and knowledgeable” graders! And the only book they have purchased is the 2000 edition of the Campiglia/Wells book. They also make a point on their website that they use “the industry standard 1-10 grading scale.” Huh?

The Official ccgtcc Grade & Condition Descriptions have become the standard for "grading" chips or tokens and is available for free from this website, listed under Education. An easy to carry, laminate copy of the Grade & Condition Descriptions will be handed out for free, courtesy of the Club at the Convention. In addition, they will appear in the "Collectors Guide" that Sheldon Smith is editing for distribution. For more information, go to www.ccgtcc.com/education/conditions.pdf.

They do (or will) have folks grading chips that don’t know the first thing about chips and “hope to be consistent in the assigned grades.” And we should pay for this?

I explained that this service adds nothing to the value of a chip or token. I asked, why pay for something (a grade/value) that they do NOT even guarantee. “We are expressing an opinion and providing a protective case for the chip.” Yeah, a fifty cent airtight and access to thechipboard.com will get you the same thing! They don’t (or won’t) guarantee that a chip has not been repaired (more to come on this subject shortly). See the Terms and Conditions on their website. It makes for some interesting reading.

To combat the fact that most collectors will not submit their chips for grading (at least they know this), they propose to enter the market by buying chips themselves, slabbing them and then selling them back into the market, and I would assume mainly to new or uninformed collectors. Again, a chip that could be purchased for $15 just went up to say $30 to pay for the slab and the “opinion”, which by all accounts, is a very uneducated opinion! It is still a $15 chip, no matter how it’s packaged.

The tone of the conversation was cordial, but very direct and blunt from my end. I explained all the reasons that this course of action would not work for them. I told him that if they wanted to see the passion of the opposition to slabbing first hand, they were welcome to spend their time and money to travel to the convention from Tennessee. I would be happy to set up a meeting with them, the Board of Directors and some invited Club members. Many of our members come from a coin or card collecting background and know first hand how slabbing has impacted those hobbies. No response to the invitation as of today.

You can find more information (and feel more confident in the source) from the fine price guides, books and newsletters published by some of our Club members and articles published in the Casino Chip and Token News. Most all of the guides and newsletters pay for themselves many times over, you have the reference material readily available to you and the cost of all of these information sources would be less than a couple of dozen slabs. Or you can ask for an "opinion" on condition or price from any member and get it for free! And most of the books are available for loan at no charge from the Club Library.

So here's the email (in a slightly edited form) and a link to the chip section on the IGS website. Enjoy the reading and if you have any questions, you're welcome to post them here or email me at president@ccgtcc.com. Please remember that this is not thechipboard when posting your comments.


I work with International Grading Service. We currently grade coins and cards and will soon be grading casino chips. We realize that your organization has been vocal in its opposition to grading. Nonetheless, we would like to speak with your group to gain some insight into the best way to go about grading chips. We are willing to learn and we want to do things the right way.

At present, we are experimenting with cleaning techniques. We read your organization’s suggestions in this area, and we have tested some of the cleaning materials you mention as well as some other cleaning agents.

We have purchased the appropriate books and are practicing our grading techniques so that each of our graders will be using the same criteria and will hopefully be consistent in their assignment of grades.

Mike, I spoke with IGC and they informed me that your organization was very much opposed to grading. From what I gathered, they ceased grading chips at least in part due to your opposition. While we would like to get some guidance from you, please understand that we are going to grade chips regardless of whether or not you approve. Ideally, we would like to take some of your constructive comments and use them to improve our grading services. We might even be open to supporting your organization (e.g., becoming members, providing info, buying booths/tables at your convention, etc.).

We are hoping that your organization is at least willing to open discussions with us. Hopefully, we can find some common ground. The fact is that several companies are entering the casino chip grading arena. As with coins and cards, third-party grading is certain to grow. We want to be able to provide a reputable service in that arena. We hope you will help us.

If necessary, we are willing to meet with you at your convention.




(Previous Slab Alert - November 24 2004)

Another slabbing company has appeared on the casino collectibles scene.  Star Grading Service (SGS) have recently slabbed some silver strikes.  These are being offered on ebay by seller 'aboncom'.  They appear to be one and the same person.  Details have been added to the banned list.

Not least the very appearance of a new slabber, the items themselves and the company raise some other concerns.

Firstly, a slabbed Circus Circus silver strike appeared on ebay (#6133840130) showing completely incorrect information that it was a 'chip' manufactured by 'chipco'.  Aboncom offered an apparently worthless COA with the item guaranteeing its authenticity.  At first the COA shown in the ebay listing related to the item but it was later changed to a blank pro-forma.  The auction was later stopped.  Pictures of the front and back of slab + both COA's are shown below.

Almost immediately the seller offered a Cactus Petes silver strike,  (#6134053311) describing it as a token this time but with a misleading 'Circa 1880' description on the slab.  The front of that slab is also shown below.

Not only does the slabber/seller apparently know nothing about the items he is selling, there is a dangerous conflict of interest with him selling his own graded goods.  Ebay does not permit graders to sell there own items.  The relevant FAQ page can be found here.

The slabs themselves do not appear to be 'sealed containers' and if that is the case then the items described could be switched.  It looks as though they are just held closed by sticky labels.

We suggest that everybody reads this ebay forum which relates specifically to this seller.

This alert should serve as fair warning to all collectors, not just those who have signed the pledge.  Slabbing will destroy our hobby.  Act now to stop it.