El Rancho TR King Large Crowns - History? (1 Viewer)

CrazyEddie

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Here are some things I believe are correct:
  • The TR King large crown chips were first manufactured for them by the US Playing Card Company.
  • Later, TR King started manufacturing their own chips on the small crowns mold, using their own equipment, materials, formulas, and processes, all of which were different from USPCC's.
  • I believe, but am not certain, that after Burt Co purchased USPCC's chip-making assets in 1947, TR King continued selling large crowns, now manufactured by Burt Co.
  • In the 1940s, TR King sold hotstamped large crowns to the El Rancho casino in Las Vegas. I don't know if this was before or after the Burt Co purchase of the USPCC equipment, so I don't know if these chips were manufactured by USPCC or Burt.
  • In 1985, TR King made reproductions of the 1940s El Rancho chips to be sold on the home market (since the El Rancho was gone).
My question to the PCF brain trust is this: who manufactured the reproductions?

My assumption is that it must have been Burt Co, because the original USPCC large crown molds wouldn't have been compatible with the TR King small crowns manufacturing process. But it's conceivable that TR King might have manufactured this set themselves, because, well, they could have (maybe). They owned the molds, and they might have had a way to adapt their processes to work with them.

But I haven't seen anything definitive.

Anyone know for sure?

Some references:
 

GianThaMan

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I've heard of companies converting Burt Co molds into lower pressure molds (like Paulson with the Diamond and Web molds, and BCC with the Nevada mold), so it's feasible that TRK was able to do this and make chips with the mold. Having said that, given that CPC managed to convert both Scrown and Lcrown molds to be usable by them, I'd imagine they used some a press that allowed for molds similar to Burt Co molds. The edge spot pattern is no help either, given that both TRK and Burt had the full 314 spots.

After some close examination of the Apache photos, I think that they are Burt Co made because their edges are not lathed like other TRK chips, instead, they appear to be ground like Burt Co chip edges. Also, the colors look to be on the Burt Co palette rather than the TRK palette. I don't see any brass in the edges though, and used chips would have less prominent lathe marks and edges, so this is all really speculation on my part.
 

CrazyEddie

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>lathed like other TRK chips
>ground like Burt Co chip edges


Would love to learn more about this!

>used chips would have less prominent lathe marks and edges

I've got a sample of those chips from Apache and they are super-minty. I'll take a look at them later and see what I can see.
 

RichMahogany

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>lathed like other TRK chips
>ground like Burt Co chip edges


Would love to learn more about this!

>used chips would have less prominent lathe marks and edges

I've got a sample of those chips from Apache and they are super-minty. I'll take a look at them later and see what I can see.

Before Josh @Apache bought them they were listed in the classifieds here, just in case you want more pron.
 

GianThaMan

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>lathed like other TRK chips
>ground like Burt Co chip edges


Would love to learn more about this!

>used chips would have less prominent lathe marks and edges

I've got a sample of those chips from Apache and they are super-minty. I'll take a look at them later and see what I can see.
Burt Co (and by extension ASM and CPC) edge flashes are removed by a grinder, rather than a lathe like Paulsons, BCC, and TRK. Here are two photos showing the difference (The Awesome Vesper Clubs by @gopherblue and some TRK tournament chips by @CacheCreekCollector). As you can see, the CPC chips have this ground, almost flea-bitten edge, whereas the TRKs have a much more sharp edge, with some clear lathe marks on them. The TRKs also have some width variation, which may be a side-effect of non-computer controlled lathing. This issue is not present in more modern, CNC lathed chips (like Paulsons).
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CrazyEddie

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Before Josh @Apache bought them they were listed in the classifieds here, just in case you want more pron.
I saw that ad! I didn't realize that it was the exact same set that's been kicking around all this time.

Those are really nice chips, if the sample is anything to go by. That's one reason I'm trying to find out whether they're actually Burt (slash ASM slash CPC) chips or are really TR Kings.
 

leo822

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These are cool chips. Originally they were sold on an auction site that I lost out on because I was too cheap. lol. I think the whole lot sold for $800. I spoke with Doug Saito about them awhile ago and he seemed to think they were made by Dennis for someones wedding as favors of some kind. Sounds weird but that's what I heard.
 
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I believe that the El Rancho fantasy large crown chips were made by TRK in the 1980s. Possibly another batch was made later by TRK. Below are a couple T. R. King order cards for those chips. Apparently they brought the mold out of mothballs to create chips for an anniversary gift according to the order cards below.

I would be really surprised if the Burt Co or ASM ever produced chips on the large crown mold. That only started with CPC a couple of years ago. I could see why you might think that those look like Burt/ASM chips, as the deep and smooth edge spots on those chips are unusual for TRK, but they did produce some other chips with similar edge spots.

A really interesting question I would like to figure out is when TRK began to manufacture large crown chips, and took it completely away from the USPC Co.. The last USPC Co. order record for large crown chips is 9/28/1938. USPC records, however, stop completely in early 1939. We don't know much about the production of large crown chips between 1939 and 1947. I think that there is some tantalizing evidence in old TRK catalogs that probably date from the 1940s that there may have been an overlap in production of large crown chips between the two companies.

PAZ created a nice tribute website for T.R. King ( http://www.trking.com/history.htm ) and did some research on the company. I wonder if he has some information on when TRK began making those chips. @PAZ

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CrazyEddie

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Amazing sleuth work!

I wish I could afford these chips. I hope they're still for sale when I eventually can. What a remarkable provenance.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to sell me a few mint-condition vintage large crowns from the 1930s and 1950s, I can compare them to my samples from the 1982 El Rancho set and see how closely they resemble each other. :)

I wonder if @David Spragg could shed any light here, were he so inclined, regarding the production history of the large crowns. It certainly was a coup that he was able to secure the rights to start producing them again at CPC...
 

duffman

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In the meantime, if anyone wants to sell me a few mint-condition vintage large crowns from the 1930s and 1950s, I can compare them to my samples from the 1982 El Rancho set and see how closely they resemble each other. :)

Ive got a couple spares from here if your interested. That reminds me I’ve got to submit one to the chip guide.
 
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Also, where did you find those records? If you don't mind sharing...

They are posted on the ChipGuide. http://chipguide.themogh.org/cg_chip2.php?id=NVLVEV&p=1000000010&v=2805176743#500 (scroll to the bottom). I remembered seeing those specific cards posted there when I saw your post.

All of the T. R. King order cards for Nevada were uploaded to the ChipGuide about two years ago. The fantasy chips are not Nevada, but were uploaded because of the El Rancho connection. There are 100s of large crown order cards, occasionally with small details about how the chip formula should be tweaked.

From what I understand, all of the other T. R. King order cards for the rest of the United States and the world have been donated to the ChipGuide, but they have not yet been uploaded.
 

CrazyEddie

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I realized David actually has already written a bit about the history of the large crowns, in his thread announcing the resurrection of the TRK molds two years ago: https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/resurrection-of-the-tr-king-small-large-crown-molds.33865/

A few noteworthy facts from various David Spragg posts in that thread:
  • He obtained both large and small crown molds from the owners of TRK.
  • The nature of the molds was "quite different" from anything CPC had used before (i.e. quite different from the old Burt Co / ASM molds) and required a lot of effort to convert them to be usable by CPC.
  • ... which seems to imply that yes indeed TRK was making large crowns using their own equipment, just as they were making small crowns using their own equipment.
  • Burt Co did in fact make large crowns, but only from 1928 to 1933. I wonder about this - we know that USPCC was making large crowns around that time as well, from a few different sources. Were USPCC and Burt cooperating on this production, prior to the eventual sale and transfer of all the equipment? (pure speculation on my part)
  • "TRK went through a mold every 10 years or so" - I'm not sure if this means they just lost a lot of molds over the years, but I suspect this means they replaced the molds as they went through them, by striking new cups using a master mold die. If so, then perhaps large crown molds were made and used by USPCC, then either adapted or re-made for Burt, and then adapted or re-made for TRK, which might account for the "same" molds being used by three different companies (and now four) despite having dissimilar equipment. (pure speculation on my part)
 
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I realized David actually has already written a bit about the history of the large crowns, in his thread announcing the resurrection of the TRK molds two years ago: https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/resurrection-of-the-tr-king-small-large-crown-molds.33865/

A few noteworthy facts from various David Spragg posts in that thread:
  • Burt Co did in fact make large crowns, but only from 1928 to 1933. I wonder about this - we know that USPCC was making large crowns around that time as well, from a few different sources. Were USPCC and Burt cooperating on this production, prior to the eventual sale and transfer of all the equipment? (pure speculation on my part)

OK, I see now where David said that the Burt Co. made large crown chips in the 1920s and early 1930s. That really surprises me and contradicts what I have read elsewhere. I had thought that the Burt Co. was not producing ANY chips with an edge mold design before the 1940s. I had thought they were just making "breaknot chips" and other plain mold chips, sometimes with their signature die cut inlays.

The Summer 2018 edition of the Casino Collectible News magazine has an article "A Short History of the Burt Company" which states on page 46 that "In the early 1930s, the Portland Billiard Company started manufacturing gaming chips. There were two types of chips, one made out of clay called 'smoothies' and the other out of a type of plastic called 'Plaston'." Portland changed it named to the Burt Co. in 1936.

The claim that Burt was producing large crown chips in the late 1920s would seem to contradict that. I think it is possible that David in that post confused Burt with USPC.
 
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