We spend a lot of our time looking at challenge coins on the internet and one thing is certain: there are lots of them. They come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes and represent all kinds of military or nonmilitary ideas and organizations. Some are complex or cutout shapes, and some have simple designs. They may even be so different from a normal coin that it can be difficult to classify them as a challenge coin. Who’s to judge?
One thing that we sometimes do cringe at is the amount of custom coins being made out there and sold for profit through an online store. At such a store, you can buy any coin they have. However, challenge coins have always been meant to be earned or given away, and we believe that this tradition should hold, that challenge coins should be earned or should at least promote a good cause or event. These latter reasons are what our custom coins are most often used for.
Leaders order them from us and then give them out as informal awards to colleagues and subordinates. Sometimes we see coins being sold on Facebook as presales where the seller obviously put as little work as possible into their design and are selling their coins for $20 each.
It’s not our place to judge people on what they do with their coins or how they design them, but we do sometimes look down at those who don’t put any effort at least in designing a good coin. It often becomes just an effort to make as many different coin designs as possible, which necessarily leads to a sacrifice of quality in favor of quantity. There is something almost sacred about forging a coin with a design in it and we believe it should always be of high quality, with great thought put into it. Unfortunately, some people disagree.
Now there is certainly room for custom coins to be made for individuals or organizations that can be sold as a fundraiser or for specific events. These coins can be made for businesses, church groups and for personal use but there certainly is a difference between a challenge coin and a custom coin for uses and purposes. While the challenge coin should be left specifically for military, law enforcement or other similar agencies, custom coins should be used in all other settings. Selling custom coins for profit can be a great way for companies and organizations to raise awareness and money.
In searching for challenge coins, you’ll quickly spot a number of sites that primarily sell challenge coins in a store online. Often, they have nothing to do with the military and just are there to promote their product for a quick buck. Quite often, they are run by overseas manufacturers with a nice-looking website, but who sell direct to customers. Less frequently, they are located here in the United States. Our view is that selling challenge coins online should at least be done by those who are in the military or performing a service such as a firefighter or police officer. Someone who just decides to sell challenge coins–particularly a foreigner who couldn’t care less about challenge coins–who doesn’t simultaneously adhere to the great traditions behind the challenge coin, dilutes the tradition.
While it may be enticing to but challenge coins being made and sold online to broaden your coin collection, we believe there are better ways to go about this. A coin collection should be about your personal journey and relationships with those you come in contact with. A military veteran’s coin collection would look much different than an average coin collector or businessman. The challenge coin collected by a veteran will reflect their time on specific tours or maybe specific detail assignments. Knock off challenge coins sold online for profit replicating existing coins from is certain military operations is certainly a disgrace and should be avoided. It would be very embarrassing to purchase one of these coins for a personal coin collection and have someone ask you the details of this coin and what it represents if you were not legitimately given this challenge coin specifically.
We understand challenge coins and believe in making high quality coins for our customers. Part of our passion is making great challenge coins, and we just don’t accept making shoddy ones.
Whatever your preference is, we think that supporting a veteran or promoting the use of challenge coins as a tradition is the most important aspect of challenge coins. With many of our American traditions going by the wayside, it’s important that we keep at least some of them. Traditions are what keep us grounded in the face of an incredibly uncertain future. Please consider these ideas when choosing to work with a challenge coin maker.