CHALLENGE COINS FROM “SECRET” GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS
This is just a fun blog post to speak about these for a moment. As I previously posted, it is difficult to verify that a coin you have acquired is authentic. This is particularly difficult when it is from ‘secret’ organizations or secret military units.
RARE MILITARY COINS
At first glance one would think that the rarest of military coins would be those presented by major commanders of famous units. That would not be true. Division, Corps and Army commanders are allowed a considerable budget for military coins. Their subordinate units budgets if they have one at all, are nowhere near that of the MACOMS (Major Commands.) Indeed the coin of HHC, 3rd Bn, 1st Cav is in all probability far more rare than the 4th Infantry commander’s coin. I do not say this to imply that the captains coin is more valuable than the general’s is but it is significantly less numerous.
WHAT ABOUT HIGH PROFILE MILITARY UNIT COINS?
I am instantly suspicious when I see one of these for sale. After 16 years In the business I can pretty much spot a fake. Clearly if a company is selling the “Special Forces” challenge coin it is almost certainly not the real thing but rather something designed to be used by GI-wannabees. There are plenty of people who want to play Green Beret in the bar. They are quick to buy these fakes so they can pass themselves off as Rambo. Take this to the bank. If a guy in a bar throws down his coin and claims to be a member of Delta Force you can almost be certain that he is not…
I should say at this point that there are some quite legitimate generic coins. These might be bought by a new Airman to give to his family and friends. You can buy them from manufacturers individually. The key is that they do not claim to come from a specific unit.
But there are real coins presented by the Commander of the Military Intelligence Corps or the 10th Special Forces Group. And it is possible for one of them to be for sale. Sadly people lose them, they are stolen or they simply need the money and sell them. The best way to determine that they are real is to send a scan to the unit and ask. If you get a coin from the person to whom it was presented that is also a good indicator that their coin is authentic. If someone has several of these coins…..not so much. A Military coin is rarely presented to a unit member more than once or twice.
WHICH CHALLENGE COINS SHOULD YOU COLLECT?
Collect coins that intrigue you. It is fun even to specialize. Perhaps you are a fan of destroyers. Try to collect as many destroyer coins as you can. Be aware that there may be several coins as each commander seeks to put his/her mark on their coins.
HOW RARE ARE MOST MILITARY COINS?
Most military coins are very rare. I can easily say that an average number struck might be 250 – 500 for Battalion and Brigade sized units and many more for Major Commanders. But not necessarily. Some large unit commanders are very careful about presenting coins. Others give away a lot of them. Remember too that often coins are changed when a new commander or senior NCO arrives.
It is in the smaller units where you have the best opportunity to have a coin that very few people have. We have made orders for as few as 25 coins. The coin that we did for one clandestine unit was an order of 25 and unless you were in the unit you would not understand the symbolism on the coin. (Or even be able to identify the unit.) In the case of that unit I’m not talking either. These are the fun ones to collect. You could have a comprehensive collection of hundreds of coins by simply sticking to Air Defense unit coins or Artillery unit coins.
We welcome calls from military and challenge coin collectors. We don’t claim to be experts but we have been in the business a long time and are ready to try to answer your questions. Give us a call.
But remember this before you call. We do NOT sell coins we have struck for others. We do NOT sell “overruns”. We do NOT sell “mistakes or seconds”. Any company that sells the coins that they have made for a commander to present to a deserving service person is acting unethically. Run from them.
We are a disabled veteran owned company. We know and respect the sacrifice many service people make to earn their coins. You can’t buy them from us.