CHALLENGE COINS – THE NEW COLECTABLE
Well who would have thought? Those coins we made for units going back nearly two decades have become a really hot-selling collectable. The other day I was at a flea market and spotted the Military Intelligence Corps Commander’s coin. I asked they guy where he got it and he said they were very rare and that only 50 were ever made. Well that was news to me because I had made over 1000 of them for the General during his tenure. Yup We made that coin. So where this guy got it I don’t really know but it moved me to look into the market in collectable Military Coins.
READ THIS BEFORE I GO ON!
D & R MILIATY SPECIALTIES NEVER BUT NEVER SELLS COINS THAT WE HAVE MADE FOR OUR CUSTOMERS. WE ALSO DO NOT CREATE COINS FOR SALE DEPICTING ANY MILITARY UNIT UNLESS THAT UNIT ORDERS THEM FROM US
ARE YOUR CHALLENGE COINS AUTHENTIC?
Maybe. Here is food for thought. Look on Ebay for ‘Seal Team 6 Challenge Coin’. There are no less than half a dozen of them; Some with OBL’s likeness on them. One of these “limited edition” coins sold for $495.00. Pretty amazing. I wonder if the person who bought it realized that “Seal Team 6” is the former name of the current United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group and probably would not appear on a real SEAL Team coin unless that coin was made before 1987? Or maybe it would. That would be up to the unit Commander in all probability. All I know is that before I paid $500.00 for a coin I would sure call the unit and find out the truth.
SOME GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ABOUT BUYING COLLECTABLE MILITARY COINS
IF you find one that is from a Special Operations unit be very suspicious. These are popular and several manufacturers are selling them individually. These are not the same coins that a unit member would have. They are created to sell to the public and there is nothing ‘official’ about them. The same would be true with ranger and airborne units. Be very suspicious of these too. We produce coins for some US Amy Ranger units and the ones that we produce are not the ones I have seen for that unit up for auction.
If there are several identical coins for auction or sale online be suspicious of those as well. Coins are presented one at a time and the chances that someone other than the commander or Command Sergeant Major having several is very slim. And they are not selling their coins. The majority of authentic military unit coins are purchased with government funds. It would be illegal for a presenter to sell them.
Some units do sell coins to contribute to the cup and flower fund. You may see some of these for sale. They are almost never the same as the unit member’s coins but a simple phone call will get you the truth. These are not paid for with government funds but rather with money raised by the unit. They should perhaps be called morale fund coins.
Another word of advice. Some older coins were produced by the units for use as money in their clubs, mess halls and dayrooms. These are cool to collect. There are a bunch of them coming from Vietnam these days and many soldiers brought them home from war to from their stateside units. The way to determine that you have one of these is that they usually have a denomination.
BE CAREFUL ON AUCTION SITES
A quick browsing on the largest of the auction sites showed me a considerable number of fakes. Again; when in doubt call or email the unit. There are some very real coins on the auction sites. I have seen many of them. Before I would purchase any of them for a collection I would be certain they are authentic.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
I see quite a few at flea markets and in antique malls. My opinion is that they would be fairly likely to be authentic when purchased there. Ask the person selling the coin what the story is. Sometimes coins are sold at airshows and other events as fundraisers for the unit as we said. Ask the service person selling the coins what they mean. Ask if they are the same as the unit member’s coins. Then buy them anyway because it is a good cause.
NOT ALL CHALLENGE COINS ARE MILITARY COINS
Remember that there are many highly collectable presentation coins made for famous people, charities and business. We have made coins for television and movie stars, famous politicians, authors and some of the world’s most prestigious companies and corporations. Keep your eyes open and you can have a great collection for not a lot of money. Just remember that if you want one of the President’s real coins, the best place to get one is from him. Why? Because there are currently 10 different President Obama coins on ebay. Do you know which one is the real thing? I don’t. I would not be surprised if none of them are his actual presentation coin.
But here is a real rare one for you to see. This is the Challenge Coin of the 18th Surgeon General of the United States, Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin, MD, MPH. If you get one of these you can be very proud that this remarkable person thought enough of you to give it to you.
BUY THE CHALLENGE COIN THAT YOU LIKE
As a final word. If you see a coin that you like there is nothing wrong with buying it. Particularly if it us inexpensive. Some coins are destined to become instant collector’s items. Even congress has gotten into the game with this Medal of Honor Challenge coin.
No doubt some of the coins in our extensive archive are very valuable. And they are, after all historical, rare and authentic. But you will not see them for sale by us or any other reputable coin manufacturer. We don’t do that. Feel free to call us if you have questions about collecting military coins. We are not experts. I don’t know of anyone who is. But we have 16 years of experience making them for just about every purpose imaginable and we are happy to answer your questions as best we can.