What Are Geocoins?
If you discovered a cache containing one or more unusual-looking coins, it is probably not gold bullion so don't quit your job just yet. Chances are, you have found a geocoin. A geocoin or geocaching coin is a metal disk with no monetary value that typically has some sort of image or logo along with text and possibly numbers minted on it.
There are two primary types of geocoins: traceable geocaching coins and collecting geocaching coins. How to tell the difference? The trackable coins will have some sort of identification number on them. Geocoins that do not have any type of identifier are collectible coins.
Each type of geocaching coin has a unique purpose, so it is important to follow proper geocaching etiquette when you come upon a coin in a stash. If you find a collectible geocoin, you have the option of using it to start a fun and interesting collectible or you can regift it by leaving it as swag in the next stash you create or discover.
If you find a trackable geocaching coin, though, geocaching etiquette requires that you share the details of your find and send the coin on its merry little way via another geocache.
How to Trace Geocoins
Whether you are the original owner of a geocaching coin or have simply come across one in your geocaching travels, it is easy to activate the coin and fun to follow its whereabouts. If you are the original owner of the coin, you should activate it on either the website of the coin's manufacturer or a popular geocache listing site.
If you find a trackable geocaching coin in a stash, you should look for a manufacturer's name or website address on the coin itself to see if there is an obvious place where you should log the find. If not, simply go to Geocaching.com or your favorite geocache listing site and enter the identification number there.
Logging in and looking up the tracking number of a geocaching coin serves two purposes. First, it allows you to learn the origins of the coin and find out where it has been thus far. It also allows the coins original owner to follow the coin from cache to cache. You may wish to log the number of the coins you find and keep tabs on it once it leaves your hands as well.
Once you have logged your find, leave the coin in another geocache as soon as possible.
Other Ways to Collect Geocoins
Finding collectible geocaching coins is exciting, particularly if you are attempting to build a large collection, but there is no surefire method to finding caches that have them and you should never keep a trackable geocoin. There are other unique ways to "collect" the coins, though, even if they are the trackable variety. You can photograph yourself with each coin that you find or take a picture of just the coin. You can make rubbings of the coins by placing a piece of paper over it and rubbing over the coin with a pencil. You can simply keep a log of the tracking numbers on the coins you find and check up on them now and again.
You are sure to enjoy collecting geocaching coins. How to do so is up to you.
Carpe Cache: Flickr Creative Commons/Doey_
First Geocoin Found: Flickr Creative Commons/meddygarnet