Setting the Record Straight - Part I Background

The following article was posted by Jim on The Chip Board on February 20th, 2005

I have read and re-read the article written by Mr. David Spragg titled “The Osborne Counterfeit Chips”. It appears the article was written with information primarily taken from other articles previously written by respected individuals within our hobby who have shared information and theories involving Borland and Osborne over the years.

At first glance one would assume Mr. Spragg “knows” the subject area he is writing about. After all my friend Gene Trimble and others obviously provided raw material for Mr. Spragg who appears to have taken this raw material and worked it into an article from which he has drawn his own conclusions that are in my opinion inaccurate, misleading, and confusing to readers; readers who are not only new to our hobby but depend upon the limited amount of written material available to form the foundation upon which they build their own knowledge base.

When you thank well known individuals within our hobby for contributing information to ones article I would think accuracy should be the primary objective in sharing that information. There are a few glowing inaccuracies within Mr. Spragg’s article that I am sure brought a “head shake” from many of the old time collectors who know what was written is not accurate. I just wish a few of those old timers would pick up a pencil and write the correct information. They won’t; not because they are lazy, or not because they don’t care but simply because they do not write very well and do not want to be embarrassed by poor grammar.

Over the years collectors have asked me to submit my articles to the club for publishing in our fine magazine. I have refused. Not because of any other reason than I write for ME. I share what I write with everyone. I publish my articles through my friend Andy Hughes who places them on his web site; but again I write for ME. It makes me feel good. Andy does not pay me nor would I take any payment. I believe being a paid writer takes the fun out of writing. That is just my opinion and should not influence others if they wish to be paid for what they do. To each his own. Just be careful not to insult your reader when you as the writer have your own unpublished agenda.

I do not sell chips. I don’t sell chips on eBay nor do I buy chips on eBay. In that respect I am much like my friend Gene Trimble. Why do I tell you this? I tell you this for one reason and one reason only. Anytime you read an article about chips; heck, any subjects ask yourself what’s in it for the writer. Does the writer want you to buy the product he is writing about? Does he want you to believe he is an “authority” on a subject thereby making the purchase of his product sound? Does he want to bring you to his web site so you can purchase other products he sells? Does he want to establish a reputation prematurely that only comes with years of experience? Look for the motive; define it and you will than know how much weight to give a written article.

You see the bottom line is the majority of writers write to get your business. If you think I’m wrong you’re not being honest with yourself. Look for the profit motive under that well intentioned article. If that profit motive is missing you might have an article worth reading. Anyway, I’m really sick and tired of “newbie’s” who have been in the hobby 2 days and have become an authority when their club membership number begins with 6000. They take material from what others have written, draw ridiculous conclusions and than act as though they know what they are writing about when in reality they don’t have a clue.

I’ll bet you’ll never catch my friend Gene Trimble doing that. He knows better. He will not answer a question he’s not sure about without qualifying his answer. In addition, he will not write an article that is not properly researched. Guess what? He is not selling anything either. Maybe that’s why he and I get into it from time to time but never loose respect for one another. Why? It is because we both love this hobby! Selling to make a profit takes a very far back seat to either of our motives.

One exception to most of the newcomer “experts” is Mark Englebretson. His articles about small towns are some of the finest, well researched write-ups I have seen in years. I just wish he would write more and often. Mark asked a question about number and condition of chips from small towns that I will try to answer one of these days but please Mark don’t hold me to it. Your ashtray and postcard collection is second to none and I enjoy ALL that you write. You obviously put a great deal of time and effort into your articles and I for one appreciate it. Thank you!

I will attempt over the coming months to correct those inaccuracies in Mr. Spragg’s article. However my busy season, the tax season, is upon me so I am limited in the amount of time I can donate to this endeavor.

Over the years the subject of Borland chips has been debated by me primarily with Mr. Trimble on the “Chip Board” that is provided by Greg Susong. Gene and I have discussed the various aspects of “Borland’s” always leaving the debate in disagreement but with the same tremendous amount of respect we have for one another again because of the “love” we both have for the hobby.

Neither one of us sell chips for a living. Neither one of us sell chips on eBay and neither one of us has a web site where our chips are sold. I have never questioned Gene’s integrity involving his so called sources of information at Bud Jones nor the fact that old man Jones himself could have spoken with Gene on numerous occasions providing insight into many of the chips under discussion, etc.

However, Bud was not one to either share information or make available “the records” for the world to use to verify. I know first hand he was capable of providing an answer, any answer, just to get rid of the person making the inquiry. He was a “gruff” old man. Gene will not disagree with this statement because I’m sure like me he would receive two different answers to the same question asked months apart.

It was just the nature of the beast in dealing with old man Jones. Unlike Gene I depend upon my contacts that live and work within the industry more so than contacts within the former Bud Jones Company. From my experience as an IRS agent and CPA records do not always turn out to be as accurate as they appear on the surface. I would put much more reliance upon the oral evidence presented to me by an individual such as Phil Jensen than an employee of Bud Jones or any other chip manufacturer.

We as an organization had an opportunity to obtain the Borland records involving chips he made for casinos, the chips he made for souvenirs and the ones he created AFTER Starr’s death to punish those who would not leave him alone in his misery. They were all there on 4X5 cards, alphabetical in order and detailing all we as historians would want to know. We didn’t get them. Now we must depend upon other sources of information hoping we can put the pieces together.

I have never met Mr. Osborne. I really don’t care to. There is nothing he can tell me that I already don’t know about the chips he had made and who he sold them too. I would much rather spend my time researching with individuals who took home chips from casinos that were operating at the time under discussion.

My first article will be about the Castaways. As a tease I will tell you this. The Castaways Hotel & Casino did have oversize sport book chips. Don’t let anyone tell you different.