This can be a very delicate topic. Chips can be very durable, but at the same time be very delicate. In fact, many chippers choose not to clean their chips at all. Some like to retain the “history” of the chip that comes with it, while others are reluctant to clean them for fear of ruining its finish.
If you choose to clean your chips, I recommend a mild dishwashing soap and a soft-bristle toothbrush. The soap is mild enough not to destroy the finish and the soft bristle are gentle enough not to mar the surface – generally.
If you’re dealing with an old chip, or one with a delicate inlay or not stamp, you may be better off not cleaning the chip at all. I have partially rubbed-off a hot stamp on an older chip before I realized it had happened. If in doubt about the durability of the chip – I recommend not cleaning it at all.
On the other hand, if you’re dealing with a relatively new and durable chip that has some especially stubborn grime, I sometimes spray a more powerful cleaner like 409 or Clorox Cleanup onto the chip and let it sit for a minute or two and then scrub it with a brush (yes, I can hear you more conservative collectors screaming now). This usually works wonders. HOWEVER, you have to be careful about the chips you do this to. Out of 150+ chips, I have had one or two who’s colors appeared faded after this process. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS METHOD FOR VERY VALUABLE OR DELICATE CHIPS.
Also, there are some cleaners on the market made especially for cleaning casino chips. However, since I haven’t tried these, I’m unable to comment on their effectiveness.
Finally, the CC>CC has a very good page containing much more information on cleaning chips. visit their chip cleaning page to learn more.
What is the best way to display my chips?
There are several alternatives to displaying your chips, but my favorite is to mount them in a frame on the wall. Several vendors have frames specifically for displaying casino chips. You can even by the special mounting “backer” board to hold the chips and frame them yourself. These boards typically come in black or green with a nice felt or velvety look to them. The frames also come in a variety of sizes to display anywhere from 4 to 63 chips. Cassidy Frames and Tiny Treasures both have a nice selection so you can see what’s available.
Another display option is easel-mounted frames for one or more chips. These are a nice way to display chips on your desk or mantle. Check out JP’s Corner for a nice selection of Easel Displays.
For that extra-special or lucky chip, you might want to consider a Casino Chip Key Chain Holder. This is typically a clear plastic air-tight holder attached to a key chain. Key to a Win has a nice example.
When mailing chips, should I use insurance?
If you’re selling a chip to someone, purchase insurance if you’re uncomfortable with having to replace the chip or having refund the money to the person if the chip gets lost in the mail.
If you’re trading a chip to someone, purchase insurace if you’re uncomfortable with having to replace the chip or having to return your trade partner’s chip to them if the chip gets lost in the mail.
Generally, if you’re trading $1 common chips you don’t need insurance unless you’re trading a large number of them. For example, if I’m shipping 10 common $1 chips, I personally don’t insure them. However, if I need to ship 100 $1 chips, I’d purchase the insurance. Also, if you’re shipping a chip that is very rare or very valuable, insurance is a must-have.
Finally, the postal service also has other safety features for our protection you may want to check into: signature required, delivery confirmation, and more.
Should I package chips individually within a mailer?
While not absolutely necessary, it is recommended to package chips individually in your bubble mailers. Loose chips can bang against each other and mar each others finishes (or worse, cause nicks) during shipping. Inexpensive vinyl or cardboard flips or even tissue or newspaper is adequate protection without adding significant weight that would increase postage.
Calculate your postage yourself and stamp your packages at home! Make one trip to the post office to determine rates for different package sizes and then you can do your stamping at home and just drop your packages off at a mailbox in the future.
Decide on the size bubble mailer you wish to use and then package several size packages together (1 chip, 2 chips, etc. Be sure to include anything you plan to include in your “real” packages – notes, flips, etc. Now, take these “common” packages to the post office and note how much the postage is on each one. Purchase your stamps and request a number of .23 cent stamps (and any other denominations you find you need). These can be combined with the .37 cent stamps to stamp .60, .83, .100, etc. packages. Now all you need to do is package your chips, apply proper postage (according to your list), and drop them in the nearest box.