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The Fitzgerald Collection of the Nevada Club Reno

Do you know Ronald J. Gillio? This American numismatist saw an opportunity when he got his hands on the collection of a casino manager, Lincoln Fitzgerald. He probably made the biggest deal of his life with this purchase in 2003.

The discovery of a numismatist

In 2003, the numismatist Ronald J. Gillio discovered tons of boxes in a dusty warehouse. Inside were stored commemorative casino items: spoons, matches, key chains and coasters accumulated over many years. The coin collector also found casino chips ranging from 1 to 100 dollars, counting machines, a jukebox, roulette games, slot machines, etc. But that’s not all, the other treasure, the real one, is hidden in a safe that contained dozens of bags filled with dollars. In total, 100,000 silver coins, Morgan dollars and Peace dollars. Gillio decided to buy everything, trinkets and coins. The price of the transaction was never disclosed.

casino treasure fitzgerald

The Fitzgerald treasure

Where did this casino treasure come from? The property, located on the outskirts of Reno, belonged to Lincoln Fitzgerald, founder and operator of Reno’s legendary casinos: the Nevada Club in downtown Reno, the Nevada Lodge in Lake Tahoe and Fitzgerald’s. Gillio logically decided to name this treasure “Fitzgerald’s Treasure”.

Lincoln died in 1981 and his wife Meta continued to operate the casinos until 1986, when she sold the company to Lincoln Management Company. The casino closed, but Lincoln Fitzgerald’s legacy lives on today through his collection.

While Gillio did not hide his astonishment at the strange and disparate collection, saying “it’s amazing what some people keep”, he estimated the value of the find at over $500,000. Between the games, objects and bags of money, it took him a total of 60 days to empty the warehouse.

A remarkable Morgan and Peace dollar collection

The items are historical witnesses to Nevada’s history. For example, empty Carson City bank bags from the 1880s have been deposited in the Carson City Museum. Other artifacts are donated to the Reno Historical Society.

The richness of the Fitzgerald collection is also linked to the impressive diversity and variety of the Morgan and Peace dollars. It should be noted that Reno is only a few miles from the Carson City bank.

When collector Gillio discovered the bags of coins, he decided to hire the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) to authenticate and evaluate them. More than 10,000 coins received high grades. The Fitzgerald collection includes 120 variations of coins, of varying years and minted in different workshops. 43 categories have a population of one coin and 72 categories have a population of five or fewer coins. This classification makes the treasure of the Nevada Club Reno remarkable. Collecting the Fitzgerald treasure is a real challenge for numismatists in search of these unique and rare coins.

Source :
Coin Week

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