When is a coin not really a coin? That’s not a trick question by any means. For a military college, there is a very distinct difference. In our collection we have several variations of currency coins and just as many variations of “Challenge Coins.” Challenge coins, simply put, are tokens presented to people for various reasons. As one of our cadets once put it “If I go to a bar where I know there will be other alumni and we are all supposed to have the same challenge coin and challenge each other to show, the one (or more) people that don’t have it with them by the drinks.” Having never been in the military I can’t speak to that tradition, but I suspect there is in fact some truth to it.
Even though I could have added “Coin, Challenge” to the Tertiary name under “Coin, Commemorative” (8: Communication Artifacts–Documentary Artifacts–Memorabilia), after putting significant thought into the idea and talking it over with a colleague who is a former registrar, it was decided to simply leave them in the database as “Coin, Commemorative.” Logically, it makes it easier for us to find them, but as we already catalog them with a title that reflects them being a challenge coin, it seemed redundant (and time consuming) to customize the lexicon when there was already a term that made perfect sense.
Our currency collection is still listed as “Coin” (8: Communication Artifacts–Exchange Media) when applicable, but as Nomenclature 4.0 begins to be implemented, we will have the ability to update the records to reflect the coins valuation (Penny, Dime, etc.) as the object name to further organize our records. We’ll still leave search terms, etc. to reflect ‘Coin’ so that our searches can be a bit more streamlined, but all in all, the Nomenclature 4.0 terminologies will greatly help us. The change will also help us (me) facilitate titling our collection for specific pieces, such as the 1819 coin shown here, which has a special meaning to Norwich as we approach our bicentennial in 2019.