7 Ways To Make Unique Custom Challenge Coins

Follow our tips in making unique custom challenge coins that make the gift that much sweeter.

Whether you’re looking for the right way to say “thank you,” want to support a friend that’s going through a tough time, or if you just want to create a sense of camaraderie in any organization, customized challenge coins are a great way to make it happen.

You want your coin’s design to be as unique and special as the person you’re giving it to — but you’re struggling to come up with ideas that make you tick.

Read on to learn more about how to create unique custom challenge coins that will bring people together, honor another person, save a life, or just serve as a reminder of how much you care.

1. Highlight an Important Date

Printing an important date somewhere on a challenge coin is a wonderful way to make it even more special to the person receiving it.

Custom Memorial CoinYou could give a coin with the date of a family reunion printed on it to everyone who attended your festivities. You could give your husband/wife a coin with the date when you first met on it before they head off for deployment.

If you want to honor a deceased loved one, you could even create a coin with the departed’s birth and death dates on it.

2. Recognize a Specific Accomplishment

While custom challenge coins are often given to multiple members of an organization, profession, or military unit, they’re also great ways to celebrate a special occasion in someone’s life.

Air Force Challenge CoinWe also love the idea of creating a special challenge coin in honor of someone’s college graduation, their new job, their move to a different city, or even the birth of a new child!

The possibilities are endless here, and the coin serves as a lifelong reminder of an achievement that changed someone’s life for the better.

Why not try using them as wedding favors, too?

3. Include Life-Saving Contact Information

Another great tip for understanding how to make unique custom challenge coins?

Create coins that are specifically designed to help people remember important phone numbers like suicide hotlines, roadside assistance numbers, or even advocates for victims of abuse.

This is an excellent way to spread the word about a cause you care about and have a genuine impact on the lives of others at the same time.

Check out this list of some of the most important emergency contacts that you should have in your phone.

This kind of challenge coin is especially excellent for elderly people who live alone, or people with learning differences who may have trouble remembering the number they need to call in case of an emergency.

Having this tangible reminder can save lives.

4. Select a Special Quote

Another way to make personalized and unique custom challenge coins that much more special?

Include a short and sweet quote on one side of the coin.

You could select a quote that you know means a lot to the specific individual, or use the same quote on all your coins to motivate your team towards success. Whenever your team is feeling lost, stressed out, or just in need of a little wisdom, they can take out the coin and read it to get the boost they’re looking for.

5. Go for Unique Edges

When designing challenge coins, many people are so focused on the look of the face of the coin, that they completely neglect the possibilities that the edges offer!

Coast Guard Honolulu Challenge CoinYou can choose from all different colors and textures, including a thicker rope design, silver or gold, or even edges that contain a few words circling the coin.

Check out our gallery to get a better understanding of the different kinds of edges that are possible.

6. Try an Unexpected Shape

You don’t have to go for the traditional circular shape when you’re designing your custom challenge coin!

If you want to know how to make custom challenge coins unique, sometimes straying from the standard shape can take things to the next level.

For example, you could have the coin made in the shape of a medical cross if you’re giving them to emergency response teams. You could have the coin made in the shape of a Scouts-syle merit badge if you want to honor a member of your corporate team.

Want to reward members of a Habitat for Humanity volunteer team? Go for a triangular shape that mimics the look of a house.

7. Find a Quality Challenge Coin Company

The number-one thing to keep in mind when you’re ready to design unique custom challenge coins?

Make sure you find a quality, experienced challenge coin company that will communicate with you to ensure they come up with a coin that exceeds your expectations.

They should have verified reviews on their website, take pride in their work, and have even offer you free design services if needed.

Ready to Bring Your Unique Custom Challenge Coins to Life?

We hope that this post has helped you to realize the limitless possibilities you have when it comes to designing customized challenge coins.

Are you ready to start creating challenge coins to give to family members, friends, servicemen and women, or even your fellow employees?

If so, we want to help you make it happen.

Reach out to us today for a free price quote on your unique custom challenge coins.

We’re also happy to make design suggestions, help you to realize your vision more clearly, and fill you in on any of our current specials.

We look forward to helping you create something that will hold meaning to those you give it to for years to come.

What It Means To Be Gifted A Custom Challenge Coin

What is the history of custom challenge coins and what does it mean to be gifted one? Read up and find out.

Throughout the ages, members of exclusive groups and units have found ways to honor each other and prove their allegiance and membership. Whether it is through songs, sayings, tattoos, or other markers, these groups recognize the importance of their bond and their allegiance to the same group.

Challenge coins are one of the ways these groups celebrate their membership and their bond. From US Presidents to police officers to soldiers, many groups and units use challenge coins to build morale and fellowship and honor others. And while you may have never heard of challenge coins, they have a long and celebrated history.

In this article, we’ll go over the use of custom challenge coins, including their history and what it means to be gifted one.

Custom Challenge Coins: What Are They?

A challenge coin is a coin or medallion created by a group that is given to the members of that group. Challenge coins typically bear the seal or insignia of a group along with their motto or other identifying images or words. They are typically used by different groups in the military and law enforcement to signify that they belong to a unit or group.

But how did these unique gifts get their start? Challenge coins have been used throughout history, and have even played a role in saving soldiers lives!

Challenge Coins: How They Got Their Start

The first use of challenge coins in human history was by the Ancient Romans. The Romans had one of the greatest armies in history that conquered huge swaths of territory in a short amount of time.

Commanders in the Roman army witnessed the greatness of their soldiers in battle and wanted to recognize them for their acts of bravery and courage. They had custom coins made for these brave soldiers that depicted their name, unit, and their accomplishments in battle. This helped raise troop morale and commemorated these soldier’s finest moments.

But challenge coins weren’t just used by Roman soldiers. They were also used by powerful families during the Renaissance. Upper-class families would frequently give their friends and family members “portrait coins”. These portrait coins usually had the portrait or likeness of the recipient on one side and their family seal or insignia on the other.

These coins were usually given when someone had accomplished a great feat. They were also given to commemorate special events like marriages, birthdays, and deaths.

A Downed Pilot Starts A Great Tradition

While challenge coins were used long before the 1900s, their use in the modern world stemmed from World War I.

Due to the large scale of the conflict, many young, upper-class men volunteered to join the military at the start of WWI. One of these upper-class men was a lieutenant in charge of an air squadron in the Air Force.

To raise troop morale and honor his men, he had bronze coins made with their squadron insignia on them. He gave one coin to each man as a gift. One young pilot wore his coin in a leather pouch around his neck, keeping it with him at all times.

Unfortunately, this young pilot got shot down shortly after. Although he survived the crash, he was quickly captured by German forces and taken prisoner. He was stripped of his uniform and equipment, except for his leather pouch around his neck. During an attack on the base where he was held, the pilot managed to escape the Germans.

After getting civilian clothes, the pilot managed to make his way to the frontlines. Just before crossing the front line, he was captured by French soldiers on patrol. Due to the frequent presence of spies in civilian clothes, the soldiers believed him a spy and ordered his execution.

Before they could carry out the sentence, he showed them his coin, which a French soldier recognized. They suspended his execution and were able to verify his identity as an American pilot. Once his identity was verified, they gave him a bottle of wine instead of a bullet!

The Birth of the Challenge Coin

After the safe return of the pilot, he told his story to his fellow pilots and they all began to keep their coins on them at all times. They even invented a game to ensure each pilot had their coin on them. When the pilots were at a bar, one of the members of the squadron would take out their coin and “challenge” another member to show theirs.

If that member didn’t have their coin, they would have to buy a round of drinks for every person who had their coin with them. If the challenged member had their coin with them, the challenging member would have to buy that member a drink.

Although this isn’t standard practice for groups with challenge coins, many of them still follow this tradition.

What Does It Mean to Be Given a Challenge Coin?

Different groups give challenge coins to their members for different reasons. Many groups give their members custom challenge coins as a sign of their acceptance into the group. For example, the US Air Force provides graduates of their basic training program and officer training program challenge coins to congratulate them and commemorate the event.

Some groups only give out challenge coins to those who have achieved something great. For example, some law enforcement agencies and fire departments give out challenge coins when their officers and members go beyond the call of duty.

Challenge coins may also be given to non-members under special circumstances. This usually involves the non-member doing something great for that group. Members who have challenge coins also give them to guests of honor, such as politicians or special guests.

Create a Custom Challenge Coin for Your Group

Now that you know more about the history of custom challenge coins and what it means to be given one, you can start designing a custom coin for your group.

If you have any more questions about challenge coins or how to create one for your group, please visit our blog.

11 of the Most Rare Military Challenge Coins Ever Given

Want to take a look at some of the most rare military challenge coins ever given? We’ll show you in this guide.

Military challenge coins have interesting stories behind them. Service members played challenge coin games in bars to display their ranks and command. Veterans and active service members now use rare military challenge coins to connect.

The challenge coins also play a significant role in their social lives after service duty. They’re given by high-ranking officers to the participating members of a specific mission. The medallions are also exchanged between officers to commemorate non-military events.

A Brief History of Military Challenge Coins

The first coin piece dates back to World War 1. An American prisoner of war escaped from the Germans’ custody into the hands of the French military. The French were about to execute him assuming he was German.

He showed them a pressed bronze coin. The French recognized the engravings and spared the American pilot’s life. Active and retired members of the armed forces still challenge each other with coins in drinking bars today.

American soldiers would carry live bullets to bullet-clubs in Vietnam. The practice spread to their fellow service members. They would challenge for free rounds by slamming down ammunition on the bar table.

Interesting Facts about Military Challenge Coins

• The coins are collector’s items. You can find rare gold coins as well as cheap brass and zinc coins in a military supply or flea market. Rare and expensive coins earn premiums to the collector

• Military challenge coins open up the history of military events. A soldier allied to the American military once presented a medal to identify himself. Had he not done so, he would have died in the hands of his country’s ally. Military challenge coins are practical instruments in times of war

• There are always opportunities to present your coin. These include identification, during drinking games, and to boost morale

• Coins are used as a tool for recruitment into the military

• Most presidents have a unique military challenge coin

Each military challenge coin spots special unit symbols and designs. They also bear different mottos. The differences identify the militant groups.

Challenge coins have several uses;

• They’re for remembrance. People hold coins to remind them of lost battleships or servicemen

• They deepen the feeling of comradeship and solidarity

• They inspire and boost morale

• They’re for motivation on special occasions

The following are the best-designed military challenge coins;

1. Rare Military Challenge Coins: US Army Diver Coin

army diver challenge coinThe army diver coin is cut into an elegant shape. The coin contains different diver badges that identify the holder. The US Army Diver coin calls for even more significant diving achievements.

2. Friday the 13th

friday 13th challenge coinNavy Chief Petty Officers use it to commemorate their acceptance into the chief petty officer mess hall. The men were accepted on Friday the 13th, hence the coin name.

3. Aggressive POW-MIA

The coin spots the flag of the National League of POW/MIA and barbed wire. The flag represents the sanctity of life for prisoners of war. The crossed rifles is an appeal from the prisoners to be sent back to their home countries.

4. Medal of Honor Military Challenge Coin

The coin features a basic design. The coin is easily identifiable. People can tell that the coin-bearer has met one of the honored service members.

5. The Poker Chip

The military coins are iconic, and they weigh light. There’s a space on the edge of the coin where you can engrave a phrase. The poker chip coin is common in the Marine Corps School of Infantry.

6. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

The coin spots an impressive cut laced with a trailing gold chain. The coin is given by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West.

7. Trample the Weak

The Airborne infantry unit is more aggressive than the Marine Corps and Army. The coin symbolizes the infantry job and the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

8. South Park

The design is common. The military challenge coin is comical. It allows the holder to speak proudly of their former duties in service.

You can customize it by changing to your preferred location.

9. Submariner Memorial Coin

The coin holds a record of the hull numbers of lost ships. The Silent Service guards all the seas in the world 24/7.

10. The Classic Stamp

The metal plate spots a design common to iconic units. The president-flying HMX-1 marine helicopter squadron delivered the Classic Stamp.

11. The Mickey Mouse Challenge Coin

Mickey Mouse Challenge CoinThe Mickey Mouse Challenge Coin is a copyrighted disc that is a bit comical. The Naval Air Warfare Center issue is different from other coins which represent violence and cut in the adult world. The coin is a reminder to take a 40-minute drive to Walt Disney World.

Other Rare Military Challenge Coins

Active military service members and veterans can seek a variety of rare challenge coins. Custom challenge coins are also available for government officials and civilians. Presidential challenge coins are the most unusual challenge coins ever.

Since Bill Clinton, presidents give custom coins to military personnel, wounded soldiers and their families. The challenge coins are transferred discretely and with honor.

Challenge coins today go beyond ranks and missions in the military. Guests to the White House and foreign dignitaries receive minted coins as tokens of respect and hospitality.

The Executive Branch made rare challenge coins for Joe Biden and Dick Cheney. Typical coins are also available for the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. Modern manufacturing methods make for intricate and colorful military challenge coins.

Other coins include Tickets for sailors and the Clear Challenge Coin.

Final Word

Rare military challenge coins represent deep affiliation to service. The coin bearers use them for identity and as a sign of brotherhood. Unit members swap, gift, and gather military challenge coins between themselves.

The artists who mint the challenge coins often have a background in the military. They understand military slang and the culture of service in the Armed Forces. That’s why it’s easy for them to develop custom challenge coins on special order.

For more tips and information, please explore the other sections of our blog.

 

Can You Rise to the Challenge of a Coin Check?

Wondering what a coin check is and what the rules are? We’ll explain it all in this guide.

The actual history of challenge coins is widely debated amongst military scholars. But one thing is clear: the coin check.

In this article, we’ll discuss the “coin check,” and some of the origins of it. We’ll also discuss some of the rules, and where they may vary from work culture to work culture or from military station to station.

It is important to remember that these rules are not necessarily set in stone because we know that the origins are tenuous. Therefore, if you want to initiate a coin challenge tradition within your ranks, it is important that everyone knows the rules before proceeding.

Coin checks often take place in bars, so it’s better to establish the rules before you start drinking so that there isn’t a drunken fight later.

Read on for more information on coin checks.

Where Did Challenge Coins Come From?

As stated previously, the history of challenge coins is widely debated. So much so, that historians can’t settle on where the coins came from. But they do know that they’re now popular in the military and with those who work with and serve a sitting president.

One story states that the challenge coin originated in World War I when many men joined up for an adventure, not really understanding what war would entail. An especially excited one decided to mint coins for his regiment, which they could all keep as a memento following the war.

It turned out that one of the men was shot down over Germany and taken as a POW. He escaped, with nothing to identify him but the coin from his regiment around his neck. In this case, it was put into a leather pouch instead of hung like a necklace.

Once he reached France, they were convinced he was a spy because of his limited understanding of French. They decided to execute him.

As luck would have it, someone recognized the challenge coin and the regiment, and the man was ultimately spared.

While we don’t know how true this is, we do know it is one of the most popular challenge coin origin stories.

Coin Check Origin

The coin check also has several different origins, all of which could be true.

The first one takes place in Germany following the Second World War when many foreign soldiers were assigned to help rebuild the country. As a way to pass time in the bars, some of the soldiers instituted a pfennig check, a precursor to a coin check. At the time, a pfennig was the lowest denomination of German coins.

The fellow, or fellows, who did not have a pfennig on them were then responsible for picking up the next round of drinks. This then evolved to asking for their challenge, or regiment coins. Those that didn’t have them on them were also asked to purchase the next round.

There are also some shaky origins in Vietnam and with Vietnam veterans, where some instituted the challenge coin check to keep bars exclusive to certain veterans or soldiers.

Where Can You Initiate a Coin Check?

Anywhere. It is most often done in a bar or a pub, but you can do it anywhere where someone will need to buy something if he or she doesn’t produce it. You could do it over dinner or going out for dessert. If you live in a fraternity or sorority house that uses coins, you could also use a coin check to randomly assign the least desirable chores for that day or evening.

Generally, though, it is reserved for drinking.

How to Initiate a Coin Check

If you wish to initiate a coin check, you will attempt to get everyone’s attention and show your coin. This means you’ve challenged everyone. You can do this by shouting, screaming, or slamming your coin on the table in a way that everyone can see it.

If you drop your coin, and it makes a noise, this means you’ve accidentally initiated a coin check, a consequence of not taking care of your coin properly. After this, the same rules will apply for the coin check.

Coin Check Initiation Response

The response is for everyone present to place their challenge coins on the table in front of them in a timely manner. Everyone in your party must do so, no exceptions!

What If Everyone Has Their Coins?

You can agree on two scenarios in this case, but ensure your party knows this ahead of time. If everyone has their coins, the last person to produce it will then be responsible for purchasing the round of drinks, desserts, meal, or whatever you’ve agreed upon.

The second scenario is that if everyone has their coins, the person who called for the challenge coin check will then have to purchase the round of drinks, desserts, or do whatever chore you’ve designated.

It is tradition that the person asking for the coin check is “punished” if they initiate and everyone has their coins. But, it is up to your party to decide the rules.

Buying Custom Challenge Coins

Custom challenge coins are a great way not only to participate in a hilarious coin check, but to also instill the members of your regiment or club with a sense of pride.

If you’re interested in purchasing a set, contact us for a custom quote. We can help you choose a challenge coin that you and your fellows will cherish for years to come.

Boost Corporate Workplace Morale With Custom Challenge Coins

Boost the workplace with custom challenge coins. Read to learn how custom challenge coins can benefit your companies workplace and employees.

Thanks to recent lower underemployment and employment and a slight increase in turnover and worker satisfaction with benefits, we’re seeing one of the most engaged times in the US workforce:

A whopping 34% of American workers are “engaged” – enthusiastic, committed to work, and involved.

Workplace engagement hasn’t been this high since back in 2000 when Gallup first began recording these stats.

This is exciting news; there’s still room to grow. Read on to learn how custom challenge coins can reinforce company identity, praise, and honor high-achieving individuals, and commemorate service and training.

What Exactly Are Custom Challenge Coins?

Challenge coins are high-detailed coins that serve as a token of accomplishment. They can have a more general design or a customized design based on the area of work.

Some industries that use custom challenge coins are the corporate workforce, police, fire department, and the military – AKA, army, navy, air force, marines, and coast guard.

But other businesses and industries can still take advantage of these coins as a source of encouragement, motivation, and gratitude.

How Can You Use the Coins?

First of all, know you can use the coins however you deem fit. As general guidelines, you can use them in the police force to honor a specific division like SWAT or detectives.

The same goes for the military that wants to honor a specific branch or troop.

These coins can also congratulate well-deserved promotions and service on the job. Not to mention, retirement for soon-to-be veterans, and a symbol of welcome for new entrants.

For military, police, and firefighters, they can be a symbol of purpose and dedication to their communities and nation.

One of the Biggest Ways Challenge Coins Can Boost Morale in the Workplace

As Harvard Business Review states when it comes to motivation, rewards work better than punishment.

This is where custom challenge coins can come in. Corporate, fire departments, police forces, and military can use these coins as that reward or encouragement for motivational action.

For example, let’s say you need your employees to work overtime this week on an upcoming project for a big client. Of course, you’re going to pay them overtime. But what about that extra step that shows your employees you care?

How do you motivate them to work that extra hour or three the next time an important project comes around? Honoring that time spent in the office with challenge coins will not only employees feel proud but boost company morale.

It’s One More Benefit

The reason for more engaged workers in the US may have to do with a slightly higher increase in workers’ satisfaction with tangible workplace benefits. Some tangible benefits Gallup mentions include:

  • recognition at work for accomplishments
  • retirement benefits
  • and health insurance

Custom coins can be one more tool in companies’ and departments’ recognition-benefit arsenal, which can help make employees and servicemen and servicewomen feel more engaged in their jobs.

What About Rewarding Training Courses and Certificates?

According to Entrepreneur, the online learning industry is booming. This means companies can offer employees more training that’s easily accessible.

Training courses mandatory or not, challenge coins can give employees the recognition they need.

How About Firefighters, Police Officers, and Military Servicemen and Servicewomen?

Firefighters, for example, have more job responsibilities than fighting fires. Some other ways firefighters help the community include:

  • aiding people during non-fire disasters
  • providing medical aid
  • and assisting with traffic accidents.

Several professional fire departments in California offer on-going training through their state’s apprenticeship program.

Why not award firefighters who attend such programs with a challenge coin? What about giving them a coin for completing their a skills certificate (i.e., EMT)?

The same goes for police offers, who must undergo continual training. And what about challenge coins for new recruits who finish training courses in boot camp?

Speaking of the military… Challenge coins can also honor the 18% of military that are officers. These men and women manage operations and enlisted servicemen. Not to mention, the 82% of enlisted men and women who complete these missions and keep our nation safe.

Getting the Community Involved

Challenge coins can also be a bridge between law enforcement and the community. For instance, police officers can hand out coins to the public at community events to help foster community relationships.

They can also give these coins to schools when police officers come to talk to classes about their jobs. That coin could inspire children who dream of becoming an officer.

Consider a Different Course When Trying to Deter an Action

As mentioned, they’re great for rewarding and encouraging motivational actions. But, as HBR states (same article), if you’re trying to deter certain actions (i.e., breaking company policy,etc.) rewards may not be the way to go.

In such cases, you may want to hold off on the challenge coins. How about setting a limit on something instead?

The Takeaway

Custom challenge coins offer a way for fire and police departments, corporations, and the military to honor employees.

They’re an appreciation tool for leaders who want to impact and inspire others. According to Medium, leaders can use the five love languages at the office. Challenge coins can be a part of the gift giving language.

Or be combined with a high-five or praise, checking off more love language boxes.

Ultimately, these coins are a great go-to for motivating employees and boosting company morale. Remember, you know your company/department best and will know when the best time is to use or not use the coins.

Have you used custom coins in your company or department? What did you use them for, and what was the result?

Did the employees feel more recognized for their work? What other benefits do custom coins have in the workplace?

We want to know. Comment or question? Write it in the comments section below. We’ll get back to you!

6 Ways Custom Challenge Coins Make Unique Gifts

Hands up if you’re often stuck when thinking of a unique gift for a colleague or loved one. If your hand is up, you’re not alone.

Most people struggle when it comes to thinking of a gift that’s both meaningful and unique.

The good news is that you’ve come to the right place. We’ve taken into account the various factors that make the perfect gift.

Keep reading to learn more about how custom challenge coins make the perfect gifts.

What are Custom Challenge Coins?

These special coins have a long and fascinating history in the United States.

Many years ago they were relegated to the military as a reward for a service member’s hard work. But today, custom challenge coins have become a popular item to award employees for their stellar work.

These days, the coins come in a variety of forms and, as a result, have impacted many different parts of the service industry. These include the police, Fire departments, and fraternal organizations such as the Masons.

In addition, the 501st Legion and other costuming organizations use the coins to congratulate members and boost overall morale.

Custom challenge coins provide a range of benefits to those who receive them. They have the potential to be a comfort, not only to recipients but to their families too.

Why Gift a Custom Challenge Coin?

As we’ve mentioned, challenge coins are now used in a wide range of scenarios. Their growing popularity is due to a few reasons. Keep reading to find out what they are.

They Boost Morale

Because of their history, and their use as a way to honor someone and their contribution mean these coins naturally boost morale. Anyone gifted with one of these coins is being acknowledged for their special achievement or their hard work.

The exact meaning can be interpreted in any way that suits the specific workforce. They can be used to incentivize good work and to boost the self-esteem of employees.

The overall wellbeing of employees is now understood as a critical element of running a successful company. Any chance to boost office morale and to positively reinforce the efforts of employees should be taken by those in charge.

Keep in mind that the degree to which an employee feels their organization values them plays a central role in determining their ultimate productivity.

The feeling of appreciation shouldn’t be overlooked as a powerful way to affirm someone in a work setting. As a result of feeling valued, an improvement in the quality of work often follows.

They Tell a Story

One of the most unique benefits of custom challenge coins is that they tell a story.

There are few other gifts that even come close to the way challenge coins tell a unique historical story. The mark a moment in history by reflecting back on a time during which they were extremely revered and valued.

Even though they’re small, they hold a weight filled with the gravity of their meaning. When looking at a soldiers collection of challenge coins, you’re seeing the progression through that soldier’s career and achievements.

There’s no doubt that challenge coins are a wonderful way to document important events in someone’s personal life and career.

They Mark a Special Occasion

This point perfectly answers the question, “why gift a challenge coin?”. Almost any significant occasion can be beautifully marked by a custom challenge coin.

Parents find great joy in giving a birth coin to mark the announcement of a grandchild on the way. The coin stands as a way to congratulate the parents to be. It also provides a way to connect parents to their own children and to their grandchildren for the rest of their lives.

Another occasion in which challenge coins are used is at weddings. Brides and grooms use them to show their appreciation to those who helped with their wedding. Wedding coins are a lasting token of gratitude to those who put time and effort into making the special day a success.

A commemorative coin is a powerful and personalized way to keep any special memory alive for the people involved.

They Unify a Team

Teams of all kinds and sizes can reap serious benefits from the use of challenge coins.

While every individual is important, it’s ultimately teamwork that makes the dream work. Team unity and a sense of belonging to a team have a range of positive effects on people.

This is one of the reasons why sports coaches, team managers and even high-up heads of department invest energy and time into fostering team unity. The beauty is that the way in which you use challenge coins to grow your team’s sense of unity is up to you.

Sometimes coins are given to a team to generate a sense of identity within the team. In other cases, coins can be awarded to a team for a special mention or reward. Either way, teams can be brought closer together through the use of challenge coins.

When everyone in a team owns the same unique coin, there’s a powerful sense of belonging that’s promoted. The effects of this are far-reaching and long-lasting.

They’re Very Unique

The more unorthodox the gift, the greater the impact. No one wants to receive a gift that’s a cliche or worse, mass-produced. The last thing you want is to spend money on a gift that doesn’t truly make someone feel special.

When passing on congratulations, showing your appreciation or rewarding for great work, you need to make your gift unique. If it feels one of a kind, it’ll truly resonate with the receiver.

The great news is that custom challenge coins offer the chance to give a highly personalized gift to your recipient. The good thing about them is that they are flexible in application giving you a broad scope of creativity with which to work.

Unique gifts are also more exciting. They create a sense of exploration and curiosity. Everyone wants to get their hands on a gift that they feel no one else has access to.

When you show your appreciation through a rare custom coin, the extent of your gratitude is truly shown.

Keep in mind that custom challenge coins are ideal gifts for both professional and personal settings. Their unique, personal touch goes a long way in conveying your message in a lasting and authentic manner.

They Make for Effective Marketing

The value of effective, long tail marketing is now acknowledged across many industries and organizations. It helps with long term visibility and brand awareness, no matter what you do.

Different companies select different ways to tap into this advantage. Some use branded clothing or merchandise to spread their brand image and message.

Challenge coins are a highly portable yet visible way to get your name out there. Coins are an easy and effective way of creating a connection, especially during moments that matter to people.

A fantastic example of this is a sports team that decides to gift fans with their own branded coins. This creates wonderful solidarity among fans when they meet and discover they both have a coin.

These kinds of real, organic connections make people feel very special. Any loyal customers can be made to feel appreciated through the use of limited edition challenge coins. It goes without saying that this kind of gifting will increase brand loyalty, as the person is made to feel truly appreciated.

The Next Steps

After reading this article, it’s clear how challenge coins make great gifts.

Whether you’re looking for a pride-inducing gift to make your employees or colleagues feel valued. Or perhaps you’re interested in injecting some fun and energy into your sports team or office.

Maybe you’re trying to find a way to show the extent of your gratitude to friends and family during an inaugural birthday or new birth.

No matter what your unique needs are, custom challenge coins will exceed your expectations. So, what are the next steps?

Please contact us for more information about finding the best challenge coins for your unique needs. We’re more than happy to guide you through the options that will best suit your specific needs.

9 Reasons We Love Air Force Challenge Coins

Have you ever heard of an air force challenge coin?

Although challenge coins are not common knowledge among the general public, air force challenge coins are a longstanding and deeply respected tradition in the Air Force. 

Check out some reasons why we love challenge coins and everything they stand for! 

The history of challenge coins and the ways that the coins are used today have cemented the challenge coins in our hearts. Here are our top reasons that we love Air Force challenge coins. 

1.  Air Force Challenge Coins Have History 

The legend dates back to World War I. The story goes that Germans shot down an American pilot in Germany during the war. He made his way to the Allied forces but had no proof of identity. 

The French troops who intercepted him doubted his claims of being an American pilot and thought he was a spy.  He was set for execution until he pulled out a medallion with his squadron’s symbol on it. 

The medallion saved the pilot’s life. He used it to prove his identity and get safe-passage back to his squadron. 

After that, it became customary in his squadron to always carry the medallion as a form of identification. The custom slowly spread across all Airmen. 

Eventually, the idea of challenge coins reached all branches of the military and other public service positions such as fire departments.

2. It’s a Rite of Passage

Air Force trainees receive their first coin, called the Airman’s coin, when they complete basic training. There is an official ceremony during which Commanders impart trainees with a coin. 

This is the most significant coin an Airman will receive. The Wing Commander or Commander Chief Master Sergeant gives the medallion. It signifies that a trainee is now officially an Airman. 

They are no longer the lowly status of a trainee. 

3. There’s a Traditional Hand-off (Like a Secret Handshake)

Any good tradition involves a secret handshake. This one is no different. There is pomp and circumstance involved in giving a coin. 

You can’t simply give someone a coin. You can’t mail it. You can’t toss it across the bar. 

The coin must pass during a handshake. The Commander places the coin in his/her palm. The Commander then shakes the hand of the Airman. 

During the handshake, the coin transfers from the Commander’s palm to the palm of the Airman.

No other form of coin transfer is acceptable.  

4. It’s a Challenge

Every Airman knows that keeping with the legend, you must keep your coin on you at all times. You never know when a coin challenge or coin check will happen. 

A coin challenge or coin check is when a member of the Air Force demands that all other present members produce their coins. This can happen at any time, during any circumstances, so you better be prepared.

Any Airman that can’t immediately produce their coin owes the challenger a drink. If everyone present can and does produce their coin, the challenger owes a round of drinks for all he/she challenged. 

5. Your Coins tell Your History 

The Airman’s coin is your first coin earned, but it’s not the last. Airmen earn coins throughout their military careers.

Your collection of coins tells your professional history.

The President or other First Sergeants award coins for services performed, that are deemed worthy.

6. There are Rules

Along with the handshake pass off, there are other rules an Airman follows for the coins.

Some of these rules include:

  • You must explain all the rules to new Airmen when you give them a coin  
  • You must carry your coin on you at all times
  • You cannot lend/give your coin to someone during a challenge
  • If you lose or misplace your coin, it is your responsibility to replace it as soon as humanly possible
  • You must carry a challenge coin; you cannot wear it. Don’t attach it to a necklace or belt

Airmen who carry their coins within the rules are honoring a tradition and demonstrating that they understand the history that comes along with a challenge coin.  

7. There Are No Exceptions to the Rules

There are zero exceptions to the rules. The rules listed in #6 apply at all times to all Airmen.

They apply whether you are in uniform or not. They apply whether you’re clothed or not. They apply first thing in the morning and last thing at night. 

There is no excuse for not having your coin on your person. 

At the time of the challenge, an Airman is permitted one step and an arm’s reach to procure their coin. If the challenged Airman cannot produce the coin, they lose and owe the challenger a drink.

8. The Commander Designs the Coin

Commanders in the Air Force create their own coins. There is a designated budget for officers to create personal coins. These coins are designed for specific reasons and to commemorate specific events. 

For instance, the “First Salute” coin is awarded to the first enlisted member who salutes a newly-commissioned officer. 

9. The Coin Has Evolved

The Air Force challenge coin looks different from the original coins.

The first official version of the Airman’s coin showcased an eagle on one side. The inscription “Aerospace Power” was featured beneath the eagle. The opposite side featured a white star with a red dot in the center.

This is the Hap Arnold star. Around the edge of the coin, the words “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do” are engraved. 

For the Air Force’s 60th anniversary in 2007, the Airmen’s coin was updated to feature an anniversary design. The most recent version of the Airmen coin shows the Air Force symbol instead of the eagle. 

Get Your Personalized Challenge Coin Today!

Now that you are familiar with Air Force challenge coins, you’ll probably start to hear about other types of challenge coins. It is a tradition that has been adopted across all branches of the military and right down to civilian corporations looking to boost morale. 

Want to learn more about the challenge coin? Check out this article about the history of challenge coins. 

Contact us today with any questions or inquiries. 

Army Strong: How to Care For Your Army Challenge Coin Collection

Challenge coins come bound with honor and tradition, and you carry it with you everywhere you go. After all, it’s only to be expected when you’ve been given such a valuable token.

That being said, you’ll want to know how to take care of your collection of Army challenge coins.

Something that important should only be given the highest of care. However, it can be a bit difficult learning how to take care of it when you don’t have all of the know-how.

The good news is, it’s not as hard as you might think. In fact, we’ve listed a few ways that you could keep your military coins in mint condition so they can continue to look as good as they did when you first got them.

How to Look After Your Army Challenge Coins

Here are just a couple of things you can do to make sure your coins stay in the best shape for years to come. Read on to find out more.

Keep Them from Direct Sunlight

This may sound like an awkward request, but trust us, it’s for the good of your coins. Direct sunlight is good for most things, but that’s not the case when it comes to your coins.

Challenge coins tend to have paint on the exterior. Even though this paint is hardened on the coin, when exposed to the light for a long period of time, it could begin to crack or peel.

Your best bet is to place it someplace in a corner of a room, or anywhere away for the windows where the sunlight can affect them.

Don’t Use Bleach

It should go without saying, but many people have already made this mistake, and many people were undoubtedly thinking about doing later, so we’re just going to nip this in the bud right now.

Bleach is a powerful substance. There’s a reason why you only use it on specific items, and even then if you use too much you risk damaging those items (especially if they’re white clothes).

When it comes to challenge coins, you may want to wash them off every once in a while to keep them clean. There are a few ways that you can do this (we’ll go over them in a bit) but dousing them in bleach is never the way to go.

The harsh chemicals in bleach could end up damaging the paint on the coin, or worse, it could change the color of the metal itself if you continue to use the bleach.

Case and point: just don’t use it.

Be Careful with Wiping with a Cloth

Whenever you see a bit of a smudge on your coin, you may feel the need to wipe it off with a cloth. Even though this is a natural reaction, you’ll want to be very careful when you do this.

Dirt tends to have a bunch of small grains mixed within it, as well as the possibility of tiny rocks and other debris. These small particles can get caught up in the crevices of your coin and build up over a period of time.

If you try to clean it with a cloth first, you risk rubbing the particles all over the coin, which could lead to scratch marks. This will lower the value of your coin – and if you’re a true collector, that’s the last thing that you want to happen.

To take care of this problem, you’ll want to wash the coin off first. Place the challenge coin under warm water and rinse it off well before wiping it off with a towel.

Doing it this way will wash away all of the hard particles, minimizing the chance of scratching the coin when you wipe it off.

Try Soaking It in Distilled Water

Who knew that distilled water could be so powerful?

There are times when a simple rinse under the sink isn’t enough to get some serious gunk off of the coin. When that’s the case, don’t try to force it off by wiping it. Instead, try using some distilled water to do the job.

Distilled water will be gentle enough on your coin, but tough on any gunk that it runs across without affecting the color of your coin. Place your challenge coin into the water and let it sit for a day to take care of any stubborn grime.

If that isn’t enough, take a soft toothbrush and gently rub it across the area with the gunk on it. After that, place it back into the water for another day to make sure the grime is gone from the coin.

Use Some Olive Oil

Those who collect ancient coins often use olive oil in order to clean off pesky spots without damaging the coin itself. Although you probably wouldn’t categorize a challenge coin as ancient, you could still benefit from using this technique.

Before you do this, you should know that this process is extremely slow – much slower than the others mentioned earlier. Only use this method if nothing else mentioned already seems to work.

Take your coin and soak it in a container of olive oil for a week or more. If you see that the oil is changing color during the soaking process, then that means it’s saturated with dirt and it’s time for you to change it.

After the time is up, take the coin and wash it with dish soap (one that has very little or no acidity) and water. Afterwards, the coin should look good as new!

Get Your Challenge Coins Here

Looking to get your hands on some more army challenge coins? Why not check out what we have in our store?

At Custom challenge coins, we commit ourselves to making only the best challenge coins for any organization or situation. We work with military coins, police and fire department coins, masonic coins, corporate coins, and more.

We even offer you the option of making custom challenge coins, so we aren’t kidding when we say we have a coin for every situation.

Sounds like a plan to you? Reach out to us and see what we can do to help you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

What is a Challenge Coin? And How it all Began

What is a Challenge Coin

What is a Challenge Coin? And How it all Began

Did you know those non-monetary incentives are as effective as monetary incentives when it comes to employee motivation?

For a long time, challenge coins have been a popular way of motivating teams and developing a sense of camaraderie.

This tradition is deeply rooted in the military and there is a long history to it. Today, challenge coins are commonplace in workplaces, corporate events and even in sporting.

So “What is a challenge coin?” you might ask. In this article, we shall discuss what these coins are and the history behind their existence.

What Is a Challenge Coin?

These are coin-sized medallions given to soldiers in recognition of their achievements.

Each unit in the military has its own unique coins.

Each new member receives a coin. Soldiers who perform exemplarily well during battle are also appreciated using unique coins. There are also other coins presented to soldiers as they rise in rank.

In the military, the more challenge coins you have the more respect you garner. The main idea behind challenge coins was to instill a sense of unity and pride as well as acknowledge valiant effort and excellence.

The History Behind Challenge Coins

Though challenge coins can be traced back to the US military, there are contradicting theories as to when and why they were actually first used.

The Most Common Theory

This theory takes us back to the First World War.

Many people volunteered as the US was building its first Army Air Service. Among the volunteers was a wealthy lieutenant. He ordered several coin-sized bronze medallions to be made as he wanted to give the members of his unit a memento.

He put a small leather strap in his medallion to wear around his neck. During service, he was fortunate enough to survive when his plane was shot down over Germany.

He was captured by a German patrol unit who took all of his identifiable items. They did this so that he had no way to identify himself if he escaped. The only thing they left on him was his pouch with the medallion in it.

Later on, he was taken to a small town near the front lines of the war. He managed to find civilian clothes and escape.

He stumbled into a French outpost where he was presumed to be an enemy because they were wary of people not in uniform and did recognize his accent.

The French soldier wanted to execute him because they also couldn’t ID him.

The lieutenant remembered he still had his pouch around his neck and showed them the soldiers his unit’s insignia. Luckily for him one of the French soldiers recognized it and he was spared.

As an apology for almost executing him, the French soldiers gave him a bottle of wine. He was then able to get back to his unit and since then it became a tradition that for all soldiers to carry a unit-coin at all times just in case.

Second Theory

There also those who have another version of how challenge coins came to be.

In this theory, the tradition started in Vietnam. An infantry-run bar tried to keep non-infantry men away by forcing them to buy drinks for the whole bar if they had no proof they had been in combat.

Initially, infantry men used bullets to prove their combat experience. It then got a little out of hand with grenades and other unexploded materials.

Later on, the accepted item of proof became a medallion with the insignia of the unit. That’s when the coin check tradition began and which still continues today with the coins referred to as challenge coins.

What’s the Challenge Behind Challenge Coins?

Though the introduction of challenge coins is unclear as they were first used in an unofficial capacity, there is some clarity as to when they truly became challenge coins.

As soldiers collected artifacts of war during the Vietnam war, they would place them on the bar and see who had the biggest memento and best story. The perceived loser would buy a round for all the parties involved in the challenge.

To avoid losing, soldiers started coming with dangerous explosives. This attracted the attention of the administration which opted to introduce the challenge coins to avert disaster.

The tradition of the challenge still goes on. Any soldier can initiate it by holding their coin in the air, placing it on the table.

Those being challenged have to draw their coins in a similar manner. If anyone does not respond correctly, they have to buy a round for the entire group. If everyone produces their coin, it is then up to the challenger to buy drinks.

How Are Challenge Coins Used Today

They are still a very big part of military culture. Service men pride themselves in the coins they collect for valor and rank. However, challenge coins have also been adopted in other fields for various reasons. The following are some of them.

To Recognize the Efforts of First Responders

Firefighters and law enforcement agencies have adopted the use of challenge coins to honor special accomplishments in the line of duty.

Government agencies and politicians have also not been left behind. They use challenge coins to create a sense of honor and unity at a time of tragedy by recognizing the efforts of first responders. Even citizens can be awarded.

Branding

These days, institutions leverage the respect people have on challenge coins to promote their brand. Instead of just issuing business cards, companies are giving out branded challenge coins during conferences, trade shows, and sales events.

Sports teams and schools have not been left behind either. During sports and local community events, mascot and logo branded coins are handed out.

Awarding and Creating a Sense of Unity

Personnel and team members who discharge their duties exemplarily well are awarded coins. This boosts their morale to continue working hard as well as challenge the rest of the team to work as hard.

Institutions have also begun issuing different teams with unique coins to help create a sense of unity and belonging. This then improves teamwork and cohesiveness.

Leverage the Power of the Coin

What is a challenge coin really? Well, what began as a simple gesture among servicemen is now one of the best tools for instilling espirit de corps that extends well beyond the military.

Organizations can now leverage this power to create cohesive teams and grow their brand.

Metal Promotional Products has one of the most creative custom coin building teams in the country. Click this link to get a free quote on all our promotional products.

Coins for the Brave: A Background of the Prestigious Firefighter Challenge Coin

A Background of the Prestigious Firefighter Challenge Coin

Firefighter challenge coins are reserved for a special kind of brave – learn everything you need to about earning one of these prestigious coins, here.

There’s an old saying that goes “All men are created equal, then a few become firemen”. It hails firemen as a cut above the average man because of his bravery and skill in the face of a blaze.

A census from 2015 reported that there were about 1,160,450 local firefighters in the United States. Each one of these people is part of a force tasked with protecting us like the military or police forces.

One of the ways firefighters are being honored is by the use of a firefighter challenge coin. Each coin has a special design and with an event or specific honor in mind. Then firefighters who show dedication above and beyond the call of their duty receive a coin.

But what is a challenge coin? Where did they come from? What do these coins stand for? And how do people earn them?

Find the answers to all these questions and more in our ultimate guide to the challenge coins for firefighters. Keep reading to learn the history of these honorable emblems, and what they look like.

What Is a Challenge Coin and What Is Their History?

A challenge coin is a small metal disk a bit larger than the United States currency coins, engraved with beautiful designs of special significance.

There is no definitive answer for when the first use of the challenge coin concept came about. Many people suggest that the first appearance was during World War I when soldiers earned challenge coins for outstanding bravery.

Soldiers would use these coins as a way to have healthy competitions with each other. Someone might yell “coin check” or slam a challenge coin down on the table and if any of the people in that unit do not have their challenge coin, that person then buys all the others a round of drinks. Some soldiers would challenge each other using the coins as betting tokens. 

Soldiers with the most challenge coins meant they were more prestigious and noteworthy than others. Losing your challenge coin was an embarrassment and merited ridicule.

Because many people became firefighters after leaving the military, the tradition of giving and trading challenge coins came into the private sector along with them. 

Most challenge coins are larger than any coins that we use in the United States for money, but still small enough to fit in your palm. They are often made with thick bronze, silver, or other metal and engraved on both sides.

Another common look for challenge coins is to have one or both sides feature designs made in colored enamel.

Common Firefighter Challenge Coin Designs

Challenge coins given to firefighters tend to have a few different symbols, each signifying something different.

The most common designs engraved onto firefighter coins are:

  • Saint Florian – Who is the patron saint of firefighters, chimney sweeps, soap makers etc.
  • Star of Life – Representing the 6 main tasks a rescuer takes on in the line of duty
    • Detection of danger
    • Reporting
    • Rapid response
    • On the scene care
    • Care in transit to the hospital
    • Transfer to definitive care specialized for the patient
  • The Maltese Cross – The standard logo of firefighters around the world. It also acts as a badge of honor and a symbol of protection
  • Fire Chief Engraved coin – One of the highest honors to a fireman given to those who show great leadership skills
  • The Firefighter Helmet – A historic design that dates back to the early 1900s when firefighter helmets were leather and metal. Now, this classic design is an international symbol for firefighters
  • Fire Chief Nickel Coin – A coin reserved only for fire chiefs and often made with antique nickel

Other challenge coins feature the firefighters’ prayer or other prayers, either on one or both sides, to wear when in uniform as a symbol of protection from harm.

How Do You Get a Challenge Coin?

There are a few different ways to collect challenge coins for firefighters. For the most part, you will need to be a firefighter to receive a challenge coin, but some are available for buys to buy as well.

By far, the easiest way to get one of these firefighter coins is to buy it. Many firemen sell them online on sites like eBay or you could attend a firehouse expo where coins are almost always for sale.

But, if you want to get a challenge coin the traditional way, you will need to face some serious danger.

Some fire departments will give all their firemen a special challenge coin to carry with them to protect them from the flames.

Often, firefighters will receive challenge coins for doing something extraordinary or showing particular excellence.

Another common event where firefighters get challenge coins is when tragedy strikes and some members of the team lose their lives. Memorial challenge coins have special images or quotes engraved on them that represent the event and are then given to the remaining members of the team.

Other firehouse related events can also merit distribution of challenge coins. Fire department anniversaries, community parades, and the opening of new firehouses are only a few special events where you might find coins.

One thing is certain, if you earned a challenge coin the hard way, it will serve as a badge of honor for you and your family for many years to come.

Where Can Your Fire Department Get Coins Made?

The honor and significance attached to a firefighter challenge coin are very important to firefighters and their families as well as other members of the community. It is imperative that the coin’s design and handling have the highest level of care and respect.

We take great pride in our wide variety of custom challenge coins for all branches of the military and private sector forces. We boast a 100% satisfaction and lowest price guarantee for our coins because we know we are the best at what we do!

Let us help you make your next set of challenge coins something special. If you have an idea for a challenge coin that you would like to make into a reality or if you have any other questions about challenge coins, contact us today!