Not many people from outside the military may understand what custom coins were originally meant for.
However, for those who “are in the know”, these coins are probably important because of these things:
Camaraderie, history and the most important of all, identity. Carrying around a custom coin or what the military call a “challenge coin” has become a well-respected tradition, signifying that the person who carries it has served in a same unit, and thus is a brother.
These custom coins were originally meant to distinguish the enemy from the group, especially during the war when spies abound. The coins were presented during meetings so as to verify the identity of a soldier or an agent. Soon, they became a source of pride for anyone who was carrying them.
Typically containing an organization’s symbol or insignia, these coins are given as tokens, rewards and even as tools for building up the morale of the members. The styles vary widely, depending on the specifications and preferences of the organization that gives them out. For an instance, aside from the traditional round coin shape, some coins are shaped into the insignias themselves, thus they can take any shape there is from dog-tags to polygons and squares. The makeup is generally nickel, brass, bronze or copper but they can have highlighted enamel designs and cut-outs.
Nowadays however, custom coins are no longer limited for the military—they may be minted for groups and even businesses. The tradition has spread so that custom coin companies have sprouted everywhere, especially online so as to cater for everyone and anyone who wants to have their own custom coin. Police and fire departments have them so do other civic organizations like the Boy Scouts.
Custom coin companies charge coin prices depending on the size of the coin you want them to make. Other things that are taken into consideration in determining the price are color—if one or both sides are colored, finish, as well as the number of coins to be produced.
Custom coin companies also give you free reign on how much you want to involve yourself in personalizing the design. You can give or send your ideas and many of them accept scans, images, drawings and even illustrative descriptions. You may also choose the shape you wish as well as the metal style. There are companies that give you a range of metal style choices ranging from polished gold to antique silver, copper and brass.
You can even go as far as combine styles to make your coin duo-toned. Other companies even go as specific as letting the client decide on the smallest detail to make the coins really their own: printing, epoxy coating, edge cutting and edge treatment, numbering and personalized engraving. The client is also given the choice whether the coin can be presented in another way: as key chains and even bottle openers. Packaging may also be specified.
These companies make things so easy for anyone who wants a custom coin of their own: all they have to do is submit the idea for the coins—this involves specifying the design, shape, metal style and options—the company will work on the design and release a proof which the client will approve. Once approved, the coins will be worked on for a minimum of at least 14 working days and then shipped off to the address that the client specified.
Custom coins make for great giveaways and even rewards in a company or a group. They are meaningful and they give a sense of belonging, pride and identity for those who receive them.