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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Geocoin Proxies: Some Things Need To Be The Real Thing

What I really enjoy about geocaching in general is the creativity of our fellow geocachers. The way many of us strive to make the game, sport and obsession better through subtle adaptations. I heartily agree with most of them but not necessarily about this. I am talking about Proxy Geocoins. What are those you may ask? Geocoin proxies are cheap representations of an original geocoin that is sent out into the wild to represent the geocoin itself. A carbon copy if you will, except many times not even that good.

You have to understand this is my opinion and I place a high reverence in regards to geocoins. I am massing a fair collection of which I have purchased over the years and I have sent a handful out into the wild. Geocoins was one of the reasons geocaching appealed to be so very much. The look, heft and feel of a geocoin always brings the pirate out of me. Yes, yes, it's the shiny things that get me going.

Then it happened. If you look at the photo above you notice what looks like three travel bugs, yet in fact the bottom one is a proxy geocoin. Someone took a wooden circle and laminated a wheel on both sides and put the id code onto the side of the wheel itself. I actually went to the geocoin page to investigate further since I had not heard of proxies before. There it showed what I really wanted to see which was some very nice shots of the actual geocoin and then some lame excuse that they did not want to send the real geocoin out for fear of losing it. Wha-wha-wha... Somehow I felt cheated from the experience. I really wanted to see the real thing and some geocoin wanna-be is not going to swing it.

Yeah it's only a geocoin yet more recently I have seen other proxies and they weren't even as good as the one shown above. More like a hand written blurb laminated with the id number. Cheap, cheap, cheap... I have lost some of my geocoins that I placed in the wild and that unfortunately is part of the game. Yet I will put more because I love the connections they make with other geocachers and with the feeling when I find them. Finding a piece of laminate or some other fakery is just not going to cut it. we want the real deal.

That's my opinion, what do you think?


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TripCyclone said...

Lame...not at all.

My opinion is that while it's not as fun as finding the real thing, it is in no way something to look down on someone for. It's an unfortunate aspect of geocaching that leads to people using proxies. Theft of geocoins. I've experienced it myself. I released the second coin I ever got and it was stolen within two weeks. Not lost, not forgotten, STOLEN! I know this because the only person to visit between the time I dropped it and the time it was reported missing was someone known by others in my area for taking coins and reporting them "missing", and had been witnessed at least once. I decided from that point on never to release coins again without having a spare. Since I can't afford to purchase multiple copies of coins, I don't release any.

Yes, some get legitimitely lost or forgotten about, just like Travel Bugs. But there is also a much higher rate of geocoins suffering from this than TB's and thefts are definitely a part of it. This person probably had this happen once or twice. While it comes nowhere close to seeing the real coin, I'd hardly call it lame. I probably wouldn't do it myself, but only because I don't want to take the time or energy to make proxies.

However, I'm all for releasing coins if you can afford it and try my best to keep them moving so that I'm not contributing to the problem. Which reminds me, I have two coins to "retrieve". Good for you for being able to do it without worry. I like discovering them too. I also like taking mine to events for others to see. To each their own.

(Geek) said...

You say you've released only a handful of coins. Are they all still active? I doubt it. Maybe newbies don't understand that geocoins and travel bugs are *not* swag and that they belong to someone else. There's an expectation that their movements be logged and that they be moved along - in a timely manner, and many people don't get that.

Travel bug dog tags cost $4.25, some of the little aluminum "coins" are as little as $2, but most large heavy geocoins are about $10. The more expensive they are, the more likely they are to disappear. It seems to me that the most successful travelers are dog tags attached to something pretty ugly. :-)
While I'd never release a "proxy" (that's just cheesy), I

TripCyclone said...

I had a bunch of coins stolen while hiking to the Project APE cache a few weeks back. I just realized that I could release proxies for all of the stolen coins as a way to help others remember to avoid the mistake I made.

Then I wondered, have you checked the logs of this coin you mention to see if maybe it was stolen? Maybe the proxy was released because the original was stolen and they didn't want the coin's travels to die with it. Would that still cause you to complain because you didn't get to see the real thing? I have seen several proxies released for this reason. And I might do the same with mine.

Webfoot said...

Whenever I find a proxy coin, I don't bother to log it. I only want to log the real thing.

Over the years, I've found the best deterrent to theft of a geocoin is to drill a hole through it and attach a goal tag to the coin. Yeah, it ruins the coin, but you're letting it go in the wild, so you know you're never going to get it back anyway. Many coins have a spot somewhere that you can drill a hole.

teamducky said...

I think you are way off base on this one, HHH. Sorry.
I have found a few geocoin proxies in the past month, and I've enjoyed each one. A few of them were so clever, they inspired us to make a ducky copy (a doppleganger of the clone... so to speak.)

Team-Ducky uses proxies for every traveler we release. We make special duckies with the travel bug or geocoin number on the bottom. We put a lot of work into these duckies and we've already had two them go missing. It is heartbreaking. The only saving grace is that I still have the original TB or geocoin. I can release another traveling ducky and try again.

The negatives involved in having a $5-$30 coin stolen seem to outweigh considerably your desire to feel the heft of a coin and see it close up. (That same desire, taken a notch or two over the line, seems to be at the root of our missing geocoin/travel bug/traveling ducky problem.)

I'll keep my coins. I bought 'em. I'll continue to create our custom one-of-a-kind traveling duckies and release them into the geocaching network. If you don't like 'em-- well, I'm sorry to detract from your enjoyment. Of course, ultimately, you are responsible for your own fun.

You can decide to not like this aspect OR you can try to develop and appreciation of clever, creative solutions to a real problem in the hobby. Your call.

davincivirus said...

I am kind of new to geocaching and even though I understand your opinion I feel that is someone does no represent the proxie geocoin as a real one. Like the poker chips I find sometimes (Which I LOVE!) I would appreciate a proxie geocoin for the art if it is done right as a cool collectible small as tradeable swag. I don't have any geocoins to speak at this time but if my very first keepable geocoin was a proxy than I might be a little upset.

Randy A. Hefner said...

You are right. This practice is just cheap. No other word can describe it. I am one who has lost REAL geocoins in the wild. As you stated, that is part of the game. I expected it to happen. When it did, I felt bad, but, I would never put an IMPOSTOR out there. Shame on those who practice this atrocious act.

Hi, My name is: Tim said...

I just ignore them. I don't move them, I don't discover them, I don't touch them. I also don't put out cheap cache containers that melt warp or let water in. This game (as played by the cache placer or coin owner) is different in that we're asking other people to take part in something personal to us. Sure there are schmucks out there, but it's all part of the game we're playing... share the real thing. Don't ask people to find a xerox of a cache, and don't ask people to move a xerox of a coin.

teamducky said...

Randy, "just cheap, no other way to describe it"? Well, that would be your opinion, wouldn't it. I think there are lots of other ways to describe it. Creative, clever, effective all come to mind... but again, those are my opinions and you are welcome to yours--unless of course, you are implying your opinion is the only correct one.... "Atrocious Act"? You are kidding, right? You don't actually mean to call the creation and use of proxies as a "extremely cruel, wicked, and brutal" act, do you? Stealing a cache is atrocious. Stealing a geocoin, maybe. Making a copy of an item you own and putting it out in the cache or creating something using the number you bought to travel from cache to cache doesn't strike me as brutal, wicked or cruel. (Calling a fellow cacher atrocious for doing something so harmless might fit the definition, but I digress.)

Hi, My Name is: Tim, no one who has found one of our Traveling Duckies has called them cheap or thought of them as "xerox". I would argue the duckies we create are a lot more personal than the coin we bought off of ebay that someone else created. You want to see the coin, look it up on the web. You want to see the ducky, you will have to find it in a cache or look for it on our blog. But hey, if you don't like 'em, don't move 'em. No skin off our nose-- just don't steal 'em.

RJ said...

I do release copies of coins into the wild mainly because these things do disappear. And if they do disappear I can always release another copy for someone to enjoy with little to no cost of my own. I'm not gonna drop $20 every time a collector likes one of my coins, or a newbie cacher thinks they are for keeping, or even if the caches gets muggled.

Sandy said...

I enjoy the geocoins immensely. We've been caching 6 months and I've purchased over 50 at an average cost of $10 apiece. The ones that are my favorites I purchase trackable replacement tags for $3 each with the coins number engraved on it. I then photograph and attach the photo to the tag (which is just like any other trackable tag only with my number on it)so I get to keep the coin, I can send something out into the world which has not been a major investment ($3 plus printing and laminating) and watch it travel with no sense of loss when it disappears. If you don't want to move it, oh, well, it's the same investment as trackable tags, but what is attached is also of interest to some.

Anonymous said...

If you place proxies into circulation, you are a CHEATER.

If you want to collect geocoins, then by all means, do so, but DON'T PRETEND they're serving their purpose by being photographed and sent out as proxies. that is total B/S. This will ruin geocaching if it catches on.

I don't EVER expect to get a geocoin back. It is my opinion that things find their way to where they should be, by whichever means.


Anonymous said...

pictures are supposed to be for the owner to remember the coin, and the real coin is released to share that treasure finding experience.

The owner should be keeping the picture to remember the coin, not releasing the picture!! What a waste. I will not touch a proxy and will berate them whenever possible.

When your coin is gone, it's gone. Your 10$ per coin is supposed to be for the excitement of OTHERS, and also the thrill of tracking it. This is geocaching, not numismatics. If you have a geocoin in a drawer, then that geocoin is sad and wants to go. Drill a hole and send it on it's way.

If you want to cache and collect, buy two.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with what anonymous said on Oct 6, 2011.

Anonymous said...

Where's that sense of community again? If you release a proxy you are lame? Youre a cheater? Cmon people lets relax and quit with the name calling. It's obvious that proxies are an attempt to combat the problem of theft, and to me that is completely understandable. Its unfortunate, yes, but the proxy isnt the problem, its the theft. So for all you prone to name calling, if you take something that doesn't belong to you, you are a good for nothing low down dirty thief. The use of proxies is an attempt at decreasing the temptation to steal these fun items by making them less desireable. Unfortunately the bi product of this is that we honest cachers dont have the fun of discovering the actual coin. Until someone figures out a way to stop geocoin thievery, I feel that proxies are here to stay. Hopefully the disappointment of finding a proxy in a geocache won't detract from your caching experience. Those of you who cant work through that dissappointment, I leave you with these words which have served me well. Particularly when I discover a water logged cache full of bugs with no trackables , no signable log, and nothing but a slimy blow pop inside... It is not the destination, its the journey, and its not the treasure, but the discovery.