A challenge coin is custom made coin or medallion or any size (usually military), that bears an organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by the organization’s or units members. In practice, challenge coins are normally presented by unit commanders in recognition of excellence or a special achievement by a member within his or her unit. As such they are used as a tool to build camaraderie and morale. Businesses and companies have been adopting the practice of using challenge coins to show recognition to employees for many topics such as years with the company, receiving a promotion, and so on. The government also uses challenge coins as campaign tools or to create a type of living memorial to ones term of service.
The monetary value of a challenge coin is really determined on how rare it is. Something that is limited has more value and more highly sought after by hobbyist and collectors. A challenge coin made for a unit that has thousands of members is less rare than a smaller unit that only may have hundreds of members. The monetary or retail value of a coin is also estimated by its design. A coin with less detail should not be appraised as well as one that has more detail. Age of a challenge coin is similar to an aged item of currency. The older it is the more value it is given. Last but not least, the condition of a challenge coin. Just like regular coins or collectibles, a challenge coin can get banged around and show its wear and tare. Just like a baseball card, a challenge coin is graded by its condition. One that has production flaws or damage to it is less valuable that one that is in pristine condition. Any unknowing person can glance at a challenge coin and think all challenge coins are alike. In quality, design, and value. Comparing coins side by side is the easiest way to see the difference.
Most collectors of military challenge coins are retired or active members. Sometimes the monetary value is outweighed by the sentimental value of a challenge coin. Challenge coins have sold for hundreds of dollars at auctions simply because more than one personal desired it for sentimental reasons. He or she may have been a member or the unit represented on the coin, or may have relatives living or past that have ties to it. This sometimes commences a bidding war over said coin. Everybody wants something that somebody else wants, But at what dollar amount is too much? My answer to that is, If you can capture your own personal history into a new coin that bares the same insignias and meaning than why not create it yourself.
By Lawrence Phillips