There are at least 125 million coin collectors in the United States alone. 

One of the most special parts of any collection is challenge coins. They’re an honor to receive and a great find.

These medallions have been recognizing special service and achievement for ages. The advent of custom challenge coins means they can be specially designed to fit any group.

Read on to learn more about the history of challenge coins and how they’re used today.

The History of Challenge Coins

The challenge coin tradition has a rich but unclear history. The answer to where it started depends on who you ask.

Certain historians say it began in ancient Rome. Soldiers would receive medallions as a reward for exceptional service along with a bonus to their wages. They came with the mark of their legion and were kept as mementos. 

Others say that it began during WWI. An officer was captured and managed to escape to France. They thought he was a spy and threatened to kill him. He showed them a medallion with the insignia of his squad and was set free. 

What Are Challenge Coins?

Today, challenge coins are coins or medallions that represent membership to a group or a special achievement. The emblem of the group is etched right onto them. 

Army challenge coins can represent a certain section of the military such as a squad or platoon. There are also coins for first responders, firemen, and policemen.

Custom challenge coins can be fashioned into whatever size, color, or shape you want. They’re used by organizations or groups for branding, recognition, and group cohesion. They’re also popular among collectors.

The Challenge

The coin check is another essential part of the tradition of challenge coins. Its history is also shrouded in mystery. It may have begun after WWII when Americans in Germany began “pfennig” checks with German coins.

The rules of the challenge are simple and must be explained to everyone at the table. Using a custom challenge coin is fine as long as everyone knows which one they need to produce.

You can’t refuse a check. Always place the coin down on the counter for everyone to see. 

You must have your coin with you at all times. Never drill a hole in it to wear as a necklace or alter it in any other way. You can’t give it to anyone else unless it’s a gift. 

If you’re the last one to produce your coin, you lose. You’ll have to buy drinks for everyone at the table. 

More on Custom Challenge Coins

Challenge coins have been a way to recognize achievement and be seen as part of a group for years. They’re also used in “coin checks” where the last one to show their coin has to pay the tab for drinks that night. 

Custom challenge coins take the tradition even further. Their unique designs make groups feel connected and appreciated. They may even become popular collectors items.

Read the rest of our content for more information.

By Manali