Challenge Coins Are a Hot Trend

Challenge Coins Are a Hot Trend

Posted by Kristin Kizer on Mar 14th 2023

What Are Challenge Coins

Challenge coins are small coins or medallions that are distributed to members of a group. The coins usually have an emblem or logo of the group, but they can also be customized to have specific messages or commemorate key dates or events.

History of Challenge Coins

The exact origin of challenge coins isn’t known but coins have been used to commemorate many different events throughout time. During the Roman Empire, soldiers were rewarded with coins that recognized their efforts. They could have spent these coins, but they often kept them as mementos.

In the Renaissance, portrait medals were created to honor individuals and those coins would be traded as gifts or collected as treasures.

The first time a coin was used as a challenge might be in the 17th century in France when the Protestants were persecuted for their religious beliefs. Huguenots who stayed in the area still held religious ceremonies, but they would do it in secret with their special communion coin serving as their ticket to admittance.

What Is a Military Challenge Coin

The United States has its own history of challenge coins being used in the Military. Challenge coins did not begin as an official military tradition, so the exact origin is not known.

One story says that in World War I, a wealthy lieutenant wanted to give the members of his unit a memento, so he had some medallions created. The man wore his medallion around his neck and was later captured by the Germans. He escaped and made his way to France. The French were wary as he was not in uniform, but the lieutenant was able to show them his coin with the unit’s insignia and his life was spared.

Another origin story starts in Vietnam when an Army-run bar tried to keep out non-infantry men by forcing outsiders to buy drinks for the whole bar. To prove they’d been in combat, soldiers began displaying bullets, grenades, rockets, and more. Eventually, a challenge coin would become the accepted form of proof.

There are other stories out there and there’s no way to determine which one is actually the true beginning in the U.S. Military. What we know is that the challenge aspect is usually used as proof that someone belongs to a certain group. A challenge check today is typically done for fun and might include buying a round of drinks.

What Are Challenge Coins Used For

No matter how you feel the challenge coin tradition began, they’re still used today, and they’ve become a popular token. Military challenge coins are used as awards, to signify outstanding service, to build morale, and as a memento of a significant event.

We find that a lot of our customers want to commemorate members, accomplishments, or special events. Our roster of challenge coins includes:

  • First Responder Coins. Those first responders who are on the front lines of civil life, working hard to protect, serve, rescue, and save will appreciate these recognition coins.
  • Military Coins. Challenge coins have a military tradition and we can create officially licensed coins for active military members or veterans to commemorate their service. Explore engraving options to customize the coin and make it even more meaningful.
  • Recognition & Service Coins. Recognize and say thanks to individuals who have hit milestones, marked accomplishments, or spent time in the service of a cause. These coins can be used for any occasion with cloisonne hard enamel colors for big impact.
  • Veteran Coins. Our veteran coins are a wonderful way to commemorate military service for you and for people close to you. We have many engravable options to customize a message, name, years of service, name of a military unit, and more.
  • Customizable Coins. This is a very popular option that gives you a lot of choices on how you want to customize each side of the coin, the coin size, plating, and presentation options.

Who Uses Challenge Coins Today

While most challenge coins in the past were tied to military origins, they show up all over the place today and have become very popular keepsakes. They’re found in NASCAR, the NFL, scouting organizations, the World Series of Poker, police departments, fire departments, the opera – basically, they’re used by just about every group you can imagine. In fact, you might find that you belong to one or several groups that could benefit from creating challenge coins.

If you’re interested in learning more about challenge coins or ordering some for your organization or for special people in your life, contact one of our PinMart experts at 1-877-PINMART or reach out through our website and we’ll help you create your own challenge coins.

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