Author Archives: Sylvia Wilks

Challenge Coins: A Colorful History

There are many ways to show camaraderie within the members of military and police forces. However, nothing comes close to the tradition of carrying custom challenge coins. Finding out the exact origin of this one of a kind tradition is quite impossible. Many accounts have been documented to point out the history of custom challenge coins. However, no one can truly tell how exactly it began.

A challenge coin is a small coin of about 2 inches in diameter. It carries a design that represents the symbol of a certain military force. Some challenge coins have shapes other than spherical. Some groups incorporate a different shape like pentagon, shields and arrow heads. Nowadays, challenge coins are also used by civilians.

custom coins

Corporate organizations and civic groups also use challenge coins to establish their identity and belongingness. Some people gather challenge coins for the sheer joy of collecting different designs and insignia. The proliferation of online custom challenge coins company made it easier for everyone to provide challenge coins for their organizations.

The coins have come a long way. However, it is still a great feeling to look back on its colorful past.

The Roman Era

The earliest instance that a challenge coin was used is during the time of the Roman Empire. After a grueling battle, the bravest of the soldiers were rewarded with their payday. As a bonus, they were given a special coin. It is said that these coins carried the symbol of the legion which the soldier belongs to. This coin serves as a memento, a badge of honor; thus, many consider this story as the beginning of challenge coins.

Word War I

During World War I, a wealthy US military officer provided his flying squadron with bronze medallion that carried their insignia. Shortly after, one of the members of the said troops was shot down in Germany. German soldiers captured the young man who served as the pilot of the plane. His captors took all his belongings, with the exception of the leather pouch that was around his neck. This leather pouch carried the bronze medallion given by his officer.

One night, the American soldier successfully escaped. He headed to France. Since all of his belongings were taken by the German soldiers, he could not present any ID to the French military. Because of that, the French soldiers ordered the execution of the American soldier. They believed that he worked with the enemy as a spy. However, the American soldier presented the bronze medallion given by his leader. The insignia was easily recognized by the French troops; thus, he was immediately released and returned to his troops.

“Challenge” Coins

The history of the word “challenge coin” can be traced back after the events of World War II. The American soldiers who were stationed in Germany started the tradition of “challenging” called “Coin Check”. Members of the military unit would slam their troop’s medallion on the table to prove their membership. The soldier who did not bring his medallion would have to buy beer for the soldiers who brought theirs; thus, the word challenge coins were invented.

Government and Civilian

Government employees usually have challenge coins as a proof of their membership to a certain branch of government. Government agencies like White House staff, Secret Service agents, and White House military aides all have their unique challenge coins. Companies and social civic groups also give challenge coins to selected members of their organization.
Many online companies specialize in custom challenge coins; thus, creating your own coins has never been this easy. They offer various designs based on your specific requirements. Aside from that, they quickly deliver the goods.