The biggest question that is asked is "What is a challenge coin"? Simply put, a challenge coin is a non-currency collectible coin from a unit or organization that shows off their logo, symbol, motto, or anything unique from the makers. The largest category is Military Challenge Coins, but there are Civilian, Federal, Organizational, and other countless genres. This hobby has become one of the fastest growing markets in the world. What was once limited to mainly US collectors that were prior military has advanced to a global collecting frenzy. The next big find on a rare or perfectly design challenge coin is right around the corner.
Auctions helped many sellers and buyers unite through the years but in the last three years or so major websites and organizations have come up to establish credibility to the hobby of collecting. The next big question is "Are these coins valuable?" The answer to that is a very big YES! Some of these coins can reach into the hundreds if not thousands of dollars for certain coins. You have coins from Generals, Presidents of the United States, and plenty of other high status individuals. One of the largest factors in collecting and finding what you want is what you like.
If your background is say … Air Force, then you're more likely to go after Air Force coins (also one of the biggest areas in challenge coins since the other branches have only been recently getting into it for a morale stand point) . You can always start on an auction site to find a great starting point for your everyday and sometimes a great find of coins. Your best finds are going to be on websites around the net. Dig some information up and find out what makes a collection from forums and sites. There are a few great resources out there for new collectors and even old ones.
Challenge coins are at least a century old and stems from the military. I will not go through the whole story, but usually all Commanders, and Installations issue them as a remembrance piece. These pieces are usually changed on a yearly basis which adds value to the older ones as they become harder to find. Remember when you're getting a coin cheap it's because it is not worth much and not a hard find. Many collectors' will research and go after "custom coins" which yield the best results when building a collection. Custom coins are a special breed, but there are many terrible designers out there that just throw together something cheap and try to pass it off. Get to know designers and their products.
There are a couple websites that sell custom coins, which are designs that have been mined using in-house designs or designs that are not easily accessible to everyone. This makes a custom coin a very valuable find assuming it was manufactured to a high degree. Use a designer that you know or that that is respected if you go after these. Finding the right coins that have limited mints are key to owning a valuable collection. Most custom designers mint only 100 or less pieces of the artwork. Over the years these are so rare that the remaining ones can earn thousands at a sale. Get to know the community you buy in.
However you decide to break into collecting these timeless pieces of treasure, be sure to read, read, and read some more. This hobby is not going to die anytime soon and you will find it extremely rewards while building friendships along the way. I personally have built thousands of relationships in the collecting and designing industry through