Custom military coins used to be exclusive to the military. Various departments, branches, and bureaus of the military often handed out these coins to their members. They gave them out to inspire loyalty and boost morale. Another reason why such organizations gave out the coins is to recognize efforts and contributions made by their members.
The tradition has expanded into a large variety of different organizations. Business organizations, charitable institutions, and universities have also begun to give out custom coins for the same reasons as their military counterparts.
Most people are already aware of the tradition and history of these coins. Many people know the story behind the challenge coin and why they are slammed. What most people do not know is how these custom military coins are produced. Below is a discussion of the process and the equipment used in the production of these custom coins.
The metals that coins are made from
The very first coins made by man were from different metals. Custom coins are no different, even if they lack the monetary value of real coins.
Military coins are made from a wide variety of different metals such as brass, zinc alloy, gold, silver, copper and so much more. The value and cost of producing a custom coin depends largely on the metal used in the production process. More often than not, zinc is the cheapest option and those working on a limited budget often favor this material.
Choosing the metal for the coins is often the very first step involved in coin design. Metals are chosen for a variety of reasons; it could be the luster, hardness, color or all of the above. Some custom military coins are not made out of a single metal, but are instead alloys.
Die stamping is a process, which involves stamping the design into the metal. There are two stamps: the male and the female stamp.
The female die is the recess shaped steel type. The other side is the male die. The male die is the steel stamp pressed into the female die. Together, the design of the coin is produced by stamping these two dies against one another.
The melting process
Since the beginning of time, men have made coins by melting metal and putting them into a mold. Though the details have changed, almost everything else has remained the same, at least when the fundamentals are involved.
Nowadays custom military coins are melted in an oven. Once melted, the metal is poured into billets. The cooling metal is then pressed to produce long thin strips. These long metal strips are measured by a micrometer, which takes precise measurements of its thickness.
A blanking press punches out the coins from the sheet metal produced during the early process. This is basically what gives the coin its desired shape. The coin then goes through another process where a combination of tiny ball bearings, water, and soap are used to clean the coin blank.
The minting press
This part of the production process involves stamping of the design itself onto the coin. After cutting them into shape, the coins are then stamped with the design asked for using the die made earlier. This part of the process is what gives custom coins their detailed look.
There are other pieces of equipment that are used to add finishing touches to a coin. Most of these items are used to add the color and finish to the coin. Custom military coins that have no paint on them are often cheaper in comparison to their colored counterparts.