How Civilians Are Using Custom Challenge Coins
A great deal has been written about military challenge coins and their use in military units. The US Armed Forces have a rich history of military coin use dating back to the Vietnam War. But these days, there are many other organizations that use custom challenge coins to commemorate special events and milestones.
Non-military Organizations That Use Challenge Coins
Here are a few organizations that use custom challenge coins:
- Law enforcement agencies, such as the New York Police Department
- Fire departments
- Alcoholics Anonymous (used to commemorate sobriety milestones)
- Harley Owners Group
- Varian Medical Systems (used to recognize notable achievements)
- Media franchises (used to recognize milestones and provide opportunities to buy show-inspired memorabilia)
As you can see, challenge coin usage reaches far beyond military personnel these days. A custom coin is a meaningful gift that will be treasured for years to come.
How Star Wars Fans Use Challenge Coins
The 501st Legion, nicknamed “Vader’s Fist,” is an international fan community of the Star Wars universe. These fans provide service in their local communities, dressing up as characters from the movies. They can be found dressed as Stormtroopers and visiting children in local hospitals, marching as a unit in parades, and so much more.
The 501st use challenge coins to commemorate events that they have participated in, such as conventions. Many of the groups, known as Garrisons, have their own challenge coins that demonstrate membership. These are often swapped when large groups of the 501st converge at the annual Star Wars Celebration or DragonCon.
Recognize Individual or Group Achievements With a Custom Challenge Coin
Many corporations create challenge coins to recognize corporate milestones such as a particular number of years of service, or achievements such as outstanding customer service to the company’s clients. These commemorative coins then become part of the corporate culture and something that makes it more special to work for that organization.
Why Challenge Coins Are Meaningful Gifts
Some people have a drawer of knick-knacks that they have received from past corporate outings — things that just sit around, and even the kids won’t play with any of it because it is not especially interesting or meaningful in any way. No thought was put into the gift, and it was mass produced and dumped on a desk.
However, a challenge coin is a very different sort of memento. No matter how they will be used, a challenge coin is carefully designed and crafted to commemorate a project well done or a milestone year. Rather than stick it in a drawer and forget about it, a challenge coin is more likely to be carried or displayed. It’s a gift that shows a high level of appreciation of a specific achievement.
How Custom Challenge Coins Are Created
When you order from Challenge Coins Ltd., your design idea will be handled by our team of experienced designers who will assist you with your custom challenge coin design. Want to embed your coin design in a bottle opener? No problem. Our staff will assist you in making all the decisions necessary to complete the production process and to bring your challenge coin idea to life.
How to Get and Give Challenge Coins
Many groups will look into getting challenge coins for their members. Their origin is in military use, but these days, challenge coins are often used by non-military organizations and corporations.
But just what is a challenge coin? Challenge coins are coins that leaders give to their team members for achievement, for overcoming difficult times, or as a way to show appreciation towards them for a job well done.
Why Challenge Coins Are Meaningful
A custom-made challenge coin is an impressive and very personal gift. Receiving a coin can be very meaningful because it shows the recipient that their hard work and determination is appreciated. Challenge coins are a great option for use by law enforcement, military personnel and government agencies.
How to Give Challenge Coins to Others
You may want to give challenge coins to your unit members in a discreet manner. A traditional way is for the giver to put the challenge coin in their hand and shake hands with the intended recipient, passing the coin along during the handshake. Challenge coins are often awarded this way in the course of a ceremony, with the audience being none the wiser that the exchange has taken place.
Coin Checks vs. Giving Someone a Coin
Because of the very detailed rules of challenge coins, you have to be careful with how you handle them!
- Even just handing your coin to someone else is considered an act of giving it to them.
- Remember that you need to make it clear to the person if it’s a coin check or if you’re presenting them with a coin.
- For example, you should tell the person that you want them to look at your coin so they understand that it’s not a coin being presented to them.
What is a “coin check”? This is a challenge in which any member of the group who doesn’t have their challenge coin on their person has to buy everyone else a drink! A coin check is usually initiated when one person brings their coin out and slams it on the table. Everyone else then shows their coin.
Whether you are interested in military lore and culture, already use challenge coins in your group or agency, or are just interested in creating a fascinating new tradition in your organization, our highly customizable challenge coins make a perfect gift for those you lead.
ID cards are most commonly used in modern times as a sign of membership to clubs, companies, schools and organizations. ID cards are flat and usually not very interesting, however, and are generally only good for things like being able to get into the gym.
But what if you belong to an elite club that only its members understand? For many in the armed services, police, firefighters and other organizations, the measure of membership is a challenge coin.
Challenge coins were traditionally associated with the military. These beautiful coins gave you the bragging rights to membership to some of the most elite clubs. Challenge coins represent where their owners have visited, experiences they’ve had, the life they’ve led, and the lifelong friends they found along the way.
A Brief History of Challenge Coins
There is a huge debate about the first appearance of challenge coins as we know them today. They are also known as “command coins,” and the widespread use of these coins can be traced back to Vietnam. However, they have been around in one form or another for much longer. Military historians debate about whether the coins emerged during WWI or WWII.
The earliest predecessor to the coins is traced to ancient Rome, where soldiers were paid daily after a battle. Although they were paid in coins, the soldier who stood out in the battle was awarded an extra coin. Most of the coins were explicitly minted for various military units.
During WWI, a wealthy officer made bronze medallions for his flying squadron and gave them to his men, who would hang them on pouches around their necks. During the Korean War, Colonel William Wilson “Buffalo Bill” Quinn made challenge coins for his men. The coins had a buffalo on one side and the regiment’s insignia on the other.
Today, challenge coins are used to honor certain units and deployments. Their purpose has evolved from exclusively military use to also including such civilian uses as corporations and motorcycle clubs.
What Are the Rules of a “Coin Check”?
A coin check is a ceremony to identify other service members. Traditionally, the ceremony was used to help a service member connect with other members. Here are some rules of a coin check:
- The coin check is initiated by slamming the coin on a hard surface. Other members respond by slamming down their coins.
- If you fail to respond, you must answer a penalty.
- If everyone responds to the coin check, the challenger is penalized.
- Coin checks can be issued at any place or time.
- Losing a coin or giving it away does not grant you immunity from coin checks.
If you have a challenge coin, ensure that it is always on you since you never know when the next challenge is. The rules always apply!
How Do You Care for Your Challenge Coin?
Whether you have an army challenge coin or one that commemorates a special achievement in your career, it needs to stay in its best shape so you can show it off for years to come. Here are a couple of things you need to know to keep challenge coins in good condition:
- Direct sunlight is not good for your coin if it has paint on the exterior, so keep the coin away from sunlight.
- Bleach is a powerful reagent on the coin. When washing the coins, avoid using bleach since it can damage the paint or finish on the coin.
- Soak the coin in distilled water since it is gentle on the material. Soak the coin for a day, and gently rub it with a soft toothbrush. Place the coin back into the water to get rid of all grime.
- Olive oil can also be used to clean the pesky spots. This process is slower and should only be used when no other method works. Soak the coin in the oil for a week and change the oil when it starts changing color. Subsequently, wash the coin with soap and water.
What Happens If You Lose Your Challenge Coin?
Challenge coins need to be kept on your person as much as possible, and especially whenever there is a better than average chance of a coin check occurring!
There is no excuse for losing or giving away your challenge coin. Once you lose it, you need to replace it. In the meantime, you’ll be buying a lot of drinks for the other members.
Your challenge coins are a beautiful reminder of your
service to the United States, to your company or fraternal organization, or to
the world. They’re an important reminder of milestones in your career and the
relationships that you have built. This is not an ordinary coin collection
locked up in a safe deposit box somewhere. You want to put them on display, but
Who Collects Challenge Coins?
Military challenge coins were initially used to identify
soldiers from specific units to sentries on the battlefield. When initiating a
coin check, the soldier being challenged would produce a coin to identify his
unit. While challenge coin history is rooted in the battlefield, their use has
grown into a symbol of respect and service, traded freely between individuals
from different organizations and often awarded to recognize exemplary service.
Challenge coins have continued to evolve, and are used by
law enforcement, fraternal organizations such as the Masons, sporting teams,
corporations or even individuals who mint their custom coins for sale or trade.
We can help you design and mint your own unique challenge coins.
While there is a great deal of military etiquette
surrounding the use of challenge coins, their broad appeal and use by hobbyists
mean that there are no hard and fast challenge coin rules today. There is a
thriving marketplace involving collectors from all walks of life all over the
How to Store Challenge Coins to Protect Them
Your coins should be stored away from heat, light and moisture.
They should be handled rarely and gently, cleaned with a soft cloth with a
solution that will not damage the enamels, metals and alloys that the coins are
manufactured from. Taking good care of your coins will prolong their life and
preserve their value. Be careful not to accidentally drop your coin while
handling it. We have several products available to store individual coins, such
as sleeves, boxes, pouches, etc.
There are albums designed specifically for challenge coins
made by the US Mint, Dansco and others. These albums have rigid pages that
allow viewing multiple coins on each page. If this method of display does not
appeal to you, you could make your own.
How Do You Make a Challenge Coin Display?
A simple challenge coin display case can be made by placing
them on a rich felt or velvet liner within a shadow box, under glass. Or, if
you’re not “crafty”, you could purchase a veteran-made display
Whether you choose to purchase an album or construct one of
your own, we recommend that you display your challenge coins proudly while
protecting them from the elements.
Challenge coins are everyday rewards in the military. Now,
other sectors are getting in on the act. Now is an ideal time to learn more
about these unique items.
What Are Some Non-Military Challenge Coin Uses?
Challenge coins are popular as corporate awards, for
fraternal orders, and for commemorating sports events like specific
Many civilian organizations, like the police and fire
departments, use them extensively to reward service. They’re also increasing
rapidly in the business world since companies have discovered their
Some corporations even use them to memorialize events and to
thank customers. There are few limits on how to give them away. The main appeal
should be to convey a sense of history and tradition, and the design should
demonstrate the purpose of the reward. Anyone who glances at the coin for even
a moment should have no trouble deciphering its meaning and purpose.
The History of Presidential Challenge Coins
Presidential challenge coins are unusual because they’re
given out directly by the United States President, in some instances.
Fortunately, anyone who wants one can also purchase them as a keepsake.
Each president designs the coins slightly differently and
gives them out for different reasons. They are a fascinating subject, and
people who receive them cherish the gift.
When Is a Challenge Coin Not a Coin?
Challenge coins come in lots of different shapes now, and
not all of them are reminiscent of coins. For example, you may find challenge
bottle openers if you look. Although that might sound somewhat outside of the
bounds of the coin tradition, it shows that the art of challenge coins is
Corporate challenge coins can incorporate any needed design
elements. Companies may decide to integrate components like their logos or
other recognizable shapes to increase branding. Their objective is to ensure
that their custom coin is memorable and eye-catching. Each unit coin should be
worth keeping for the recipient.
Challenge Coins Memorialize Outstanding Service
It’s common for the fire department, military organizations,
Air Force, service members, law enforcement staff, and others to give out
traditional coins with historical designs. It’s not uncommon for military
challenge coins to commemorate a World War or the Vietnam War. There’s even a
coin the Challenger crew will hold dear.
It’s possible to memorialize any event in this manner.
People love getting them because they recognize outstanding service. It’s a way
for an organization to thank people, and the tradition works well across an
extensive range of industries.
Interested in creating challenge coins for your
organization? You can always get help with your design, so don’t be afraid to
dream big. You’ll have to come up with some of the ideas yourself, but we’ll
give you plenty of help bringing those ideas to life! Contact us to find out
how our service can assist.
Challenge coins have a long and proven
tradition of showing dedication and camaraderie to your military unit,
government or fraternal organization. The history of challenge coins dates all
the way back to Ancient Roman times, when soldiers were presented with special
coins in appreciation for their service. In America, one of the first known
instances of challenge coins appeared in 1917, when a volunteer squadron
pilot’s life was saved thanks to the medallion he kept around his neck.
The United States soldier’s medallion proved
to the French that he was not part of the enemy forces. The story goes that
from that day every member of the unit had to carry their medallion at all
times, or submit to a challenge by a member of the unit. These medallions are
now known as challenge coins, and they have become a tradition throughout the
United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
In the United States, the giving and receiving
of challenge coins have become one of the most treasured honors that a service
member can experience. Military challenge coins are collected by people around
the world for historical interest and the quality of the design work. The
tradition of exchanging military coins is important to the morale of the unit
and is a sign of respect.
Members of the military or other organizations
who hold challenge coins can participate in the tradition of doing a coin
check. A coin check is normally a bar game in which one coin holder calls out
the challenge. The game can be started by either rapping the challenge coin
loudly on the bar or table or shouting it out. Be advised— it’s important to be
aware of the consequences of starting a coin challenge, or else you may end up
paying for a lot of drinks.
The basic premise of a coin challenge is for
everyone to pull out their challenge coins at the same time. Owners of
challenge coins should understand the rules of what the game entails, so that
the game is fair for everyone. The challenger needs to also define how many
drinks will be purchased by the loser of the game. Once the coin challenge has
been initiated, it’s important to show your challenge coin by placing it on a
hard surface or chair, but stay close to it. Some rules state that if you’re
more than four steps away from your challenge coin, then it can be taken by
The rules can also vary depending on what
branch of the military you’re in (or where you are in the world), but the gist
of the challenge remains the same. The person who fails to present their
challenge coin during the game gets the honor of buying all the players a
drink. There are some important rules to know about when participating in a
challenge. For instance, if you hand your challenge coin to someone, then it
means you are giving it to them. Don’t make the mistake of losing your coin in
this manner, and know the rules before you play. It’s best to show that you
have your coin by placing it in the palm of your hand, holding it in your
fingers or putting it on your table.
Challenge coins are an outstanding way to thank
someone for their hard work. Whether you’re a member of the military, fire and
rescue services or another organization, we can help you design just the right
challenge coin. Our custom challenge coins are made from the highest quality
materials, so they can be treasured for a lifetime.
When you present our custom made challenge
coins at an award ceremony or as part of a unit commendation, you’ll know it
will show a level of appreciation that can’t be defined. We’re dedicated to
creating designs to showcase your military unit, club, or other organization by
providing meticulous attention to detail in all the work we do. When you’re
ready for the best challenge coins available, contact us for superior service.
Challenge coins are a long-standing tradition
in the military, emergency services field, law enforcement and government
organizations. These custom challenge coins are typically made from
high-quality metal, like bronze or brass, with the military unit or organization’s
insignia carefully etched into it. The coins are important keepsakes that are
used to show allegiance, honor and respect.
It’s generally regarded as an honor to receive
a custom challenge coin. It should be treated with care and kept with you at
all times. Military members may be publicly awarded challenge coins by their
unit leader individually or as a unit. Coins can be presented by any
organization to show their appreciation for an individual’s hard work and
dedication. Challenge coins are used by all branches of the armed forces, but
they’re also used in the public sector too. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous
commemorate sobriety with challenge coins, while civilian groups like the Boy
Scouts use them for commemorative purposes alongside non-profits like the 501st
There’s no doubt that custom challenge coins
are an excellent way to show camaraderie to your group. Whether you’re in law
enforcement, military services or a civilian group, challenge coins are always
appreciated. Historians have noted that the Ancient Roman soldiers gave and
received medallions to boost morale. The most widespread and popular origin
story of how challenge coins came into play in the military goes back to World
War I. A rich lieutenant presented his American volunteer squadron with special
medallions to signify that they were part of the unit.
One of the unit’s pilots was struck down
behind German lines where the soldiers took away his identification papers.
However, the pilot still had the medallion around his neck kept safely in a
small pouch. He was able to escape to a small French outpost, but the people
there were afraid he was a spy. The pilot was unable to prove he was American,
but the medallion convinced the French to delay shooting him. The pilot was set
free thanks to the medallion.
This may have started the coin challenge
that’s still played today. After the pilot’s safe return, all of his fellow
unit members were required to keep their medallions with them. The practice of
doing a coin check meant that any unit member who was unable to show their coin
had to buy the challenger a drink. If everyone was able to produce their coin,
then the person who called the coin challenge bought drinks for the whole crew.
From that point and throughout the major
conflicts like World War II, Korea and Vietnam, challenge coins have been used
as a way to identify and reward military members. Current members of the Coast
Guard, Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines all have their own stunning custom
challenge coin designs to keep with them as part of the military’s tradition.
There are several ways that you can get
challenge coins. If you’re a member of an organization, then you may receive
one as recognition of your services. Receiving a challenge coin is a memorable
occasion that you will treasure. The practice of trading coins across military
branches has become popular, and it’s a great way to meet service members from
different units. There are many challenge coin collectors who buy this unique
memorabilia to display in their homes. Collectors appreciate the history and
intricate designs on the custom coins, and it’s not uncommon for some
collectors to spend hundreds of dollars to complete their collections.
The most common way to get challenge coins is
by playing the coin challenge game. Although the game is over one hundred years
old, it’s still incredibly popular today in America, the United Kingdom, Canada
and Australia. Starting a coin check is easy, but be careful, because you may
end up having to buy a lot of drinks. The initiator of the game can shout it
out or use their coin to make a loud noise on the bar, table or floor. Dropping
your coin by accident can also start the game, which is a good reason to keep
your coin secured.
Anyone who has received a challenge coin
should most likely already be familiar with the rules of the game, but you
should make it clear how many drinks will be purchased by the loser. At this
point, everyone participating is required to show their challenge coin. The
coin should never be handed over to another game participant, because you’ll
lose your coin. Hold your coin on the palm of your hand, in your fingers or
place it next to you on a table. Another way to lose your coin is by leaving it
on a table or chair and walking away, making it available to anyone who wants
If you lose the game but refuse to buy the
required round of drinks, then you must turn in your challenge coin. That’s why
it’s important to think twice before calling a coin challenge, since it can get
expensive. Coin challenges can be called out in any location and at any
appropriate time. It’s a fun and exciting way to show your dedication to your
military unit, fraternal organization or other agency.
Our company provides custom challenge coins
for everyone. We use only high-quality material and our designs are expertly
embossed for a coin you can be proud of.
Challenge coins are a relatively recent fad that is gaining a lot of momentum by people of all ages within the past few years, however, the history of these coins dates back centuries. Some would argue that the coins originated before the settlement and colonization of North American. Regardless of when these coins were developed, though, we do know that they have been used a significant mementos for unity, confidence and remembrance since the very beginning.
They are being used by office personnel and sports teams to create bonds that money can’t buy and are being gifted to young adults upon graduation or in celebration of becoming a homeowner, landing a new job, or for the birth of a first child. They are used to remember our loved ones when they have passed on into another world. They give us something physical and tangible to hold and put into the palm of our hands an existential concept that sometimes cannot be described with words, ideas or images.
Challenge coins have become a great way to remember and commemorate special events, people and places in our lives. They have also become a great gift to give.
What are challenge coins?
Challenge coins are a small, circular and flat object made out of different types of metal. They can be made in silver, bronze, copper or brass. They can be customized specifically for someone you love or can be produced in masses and given to a graduating class or to a branch of the military. They are meant to be carried around in your pocket and serve as a constant reminder of some special event or group. They are intended to bring belonging and a sense of camaraderie but serve many meaningful purposes beyond this.
The perks of carrying around a challenge coin
- Challenge coins are small and easy to transport
- Made of high quality brass but do not weigh a lot
- Fit nicely in your pocket
- Serve as a reminder and act as a memento of a special time or person or place that has affected your life or at least become a huge part of it
- They are a physical representation and tangible keepsake of a special chapter or event in your life
- They remind you that you are connected to your past in a special way
- They remind you that you are a part of something larger than yourself and that, by carrying this coin around, you are never alone
Why challenge coins make great gifts
- They are cost effective
- They are a great way to show that you care and have been thinking of a person in a special, non-traditional kind of way
- They are extremely personalized and are, therefore, extremely unique; no other person on earth will have the exact same challenge coin as you, unless you want to buy a few of the same one, of course
Honoring military veterans with challenge coins
The significance of honoring military veterans with custom made challenge coins is a great idea. Here’s why.
Building the bond of brotherhood. Giving challenge coins to veterans can build unity and create a special sense of camaraderie among veterans that is not easily found elsewhere. They can also give light to all of the invisible lines of connection that still exist between a veteran and his peers. For example, giving the coin, especially years after the veteran has been participating in the service, is a great way for him or her to remember where they have been. It is a great way to remember that they were once a part of something larger than themselves, that they played an important and key role in serving their country.
Giving hope and helping with postpartum depression. Giving the gift of a challenge coin can give hope to veterans who may be suffering from postpartum depression disorder. The coin connects them to their past in a certain way that memories can’t because the coin is tangible. Like a photo, it can trigger new memories and bring back old ones. Sometimes revisiting these memories are helpful for healing individuals who need to move on and forget or even recover from traumatic experiences.
Inspiring loyalty. Challenge coins can inspire loyalty within veterans in a new way. Anyone who has ever been part of a team knows that the camaraderie and unity, the bond created, is one of life’s greatest gifts. For most of us, being a part of a high school sports team is one of the best and unitive experiences of our life because we feel like we belong to something. We trust each other as teammates and as friends and we have each other’s backs.
Participating in the military is the exact same thing, only sometimes this bond can be deeper because your life is literally on the line and the person standing next to you literally is in charge of looking out for it. Giving a challenge coin can invoke these memories anew and inspire veterans to continue living into loyalty in new ways.
Bridge the gap between then and now. For a veteran, spending only a few weeks living “civilian life” after living life in the war, whether active or inactive, can seem like an eternity or a decade. Days may pass in reality, but to veterans it may seem like years. Giving the gift of a challenge coin can be a great way of letting a veteran known that their “distant past” is still very much a part of their present. While they may have changed and time may have changed their physical surroundings, nothing can change their past experience. It is still special and significant and it is important to remember that period of their lives.
Saying thank you. Giving the gift of a challenge coin is also a great way to say thank you and one of the best ways to honor a former veteran. It is another way of saying, job well done. We appreciate you. We see you. We hear you. We are grateful for you and for all that you have done for us and for our country. The best part is that even after you have given the challenge coin and after you have said these words the challenge coin continues to live on in their pockets, in the hearts and in their minds when everything is beginning to fade. Challenge coins are made to last.