Vegas Casino Sells Historic Coins and Tokens to Spectrum


(Irvine, California) — Hundreds of silver and gold coins, silver bars and specially-made gold $1 and $5 denomination gaming tokens that were stored for decades in the vault of a well-known downtown Las Vegas casino have been purchased by Spectrum Numismatics International of Irvine, California.

This gold $5 gaming token was produced in 1988 for the El Cortez Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  Three of these from the personal collection of gaming pioneer Jackie Gaughan were recently acquired by Spectrum Numismatics International.  (Photo credit: Karen Bridges for Spectrum.)

“These items are from the El Cortez Hotel and Casino that was built on Fremont Street in 1941 and are from the personal collection of well-known Vegas gaming pioneer, Jackie Gaughan, who has owned the historic hotel since 1963,” said Ronald J. Gillio, Numismatic Acquisition Coordinator for Spectrum who arranged the purchase.

The purchase price was not disclosed but Greg Roberts, President and CEO of Spectrum, said it was “in the six figures.”

The transaction included hundreds of pre-1965 silver dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars; a complete set of Morgan silver dollars; $5, $10 and $20 denomination U.S. gold coins; over 100 silver bars; and gold versions of gaming tokens struck in the 1980s for the El Cortez and the Union Plaza Hotel, another downtown property also owned at the time by Gaughan.

“Ron Gillio and I spent several hours in the hotel’s boardroom examining each item before we made an offer to one of the casino executives.  Even though there were other bids, we immediately had a deal,” explained Thad Olson, Senior Numismatist for Spectrum.

“A small number of gold gaming tokens were specially made in 1988 when the El Cortez and Union Plaza had thousands of non-precious metal slot machine and gaming table tokens struck by the private Van Brook Mint in Lexington, Kentucky.  It’s truly a historic and matchless collection,” said Gaughan.

Spectrum now has purchased all ten of the $1 denomination Union Plaza gold tokens produced in 1988.  The company also acquired six of the gold $1 and three of the gold $5 El Cortez gaming tokens that also were struck that year.

Only ten gold $1 gaming tokens were made in 1988 for the Union Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and all were recently acquired by Spectrum Numismatics International.   (Photo credit: Karen Bridges for Spectrum.)

“As we examined the collection I was suddenly surprised when they brought out boxes which had been sealed for decades.  Inside the boxes were gold Half Eagles, Eagles and Double Eagles.” said Gillio.

The El Cortez has continuously operated at 600 East Fremont St. in downtown Las Vegas since it was opened as a 59-room hotel in 1941.  Several years later it was sold to a group that included the legendary Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.  Today, under Gaughan’s ownership, the recently renovated hotel has 300 rooms and is a major part of the revitalization of the downtown area.

“We have not yet firmed up our marketing plans for this latest acquisition, but these incredible items will be made available to the public in the coming months,” said Roberts.

For additional information about Spectrum and the Gaughan/El Cortez items, contact Spectrum Numismatics International at (888) 828-2646.


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