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.

Sizing Guide: How to Choose the Right Custom Challenge Coin Size

When choosing a custom challenge coin size, it’s important to have the right one for your needs. Learn more about choosing the perfect one with our guide.

The tradition of challenge coins dates back almost a century during World War I. The true origin is not known for sure, but it’s said that a lieutenant gifted bronze coins to his all the members in his unit. It was this medallion that eventually helped save the lieutenants life when it served as proof to allied forces that he was an American soldier.

Over the years, challenge coins have been gifted to honor both individuals and organizations. These coins are used for a variety of organizations, not just the armed forces.

If you are considering placing an order for challenge coins, there are a lot of decisions to make. One important decision you will make is the sizing of the coin. There are many different factors that will determine which challenge coin size is perfect for your needs.

Keep reading to learn more about challenge coins and choosing the perfect size for you with our guide.

The Challenge Coin Tradition

Challenge coins tell a story. They tell stories about the organization they are for, the person they are gifted to, as well as the person who made it.

They aren’t used as a formal award, instead, they are very informal. Evidence of this is how the coins are usually given. The coin giver usually places the coin in the palm of their hand, and they pass it to the receiver through a handshake.

Often times, they are something that individuals in an organization carry with them. It’s very common for organizations with coins to play games to see who has theirs on them. For example, if one person pulls out their coin and someone doesn’t have theirs, then that person is responsible for buying drinks for the whole group.

Challenge coins are a great way to honor individuals and create traditions within your group.

Who Uses Challenge Coins?

Challenge coins are used for many different purposes. They used to be used solely in the armed forces. Now, firefighters, police officers, government departments, businesses, and other groups use them for many different purposes. They can be used to honor acts of bravery, commemorate a big event such as retirement, or even to help raise money for a cause.

People are generally surprised at how common they are. There is a large community of individuals who trade and collect challenge coins as well. The more rare ones can sell for $40-50.

Challenge Coin Sizes and DesignTypical Challenge Coin Size

Challenge coins vary greatly in size, but the most common size is about 2 inches in diameter. However, they can be made larger or smaller than this. We offer custom coins anywhere from 1.5-3 inches in diameter.

This size is the most common because it offers the greatest balance between space for design, weight, portability, and visual impact. However, that doesn’t mean that this is the best size for everyone’s needs.

We will go over other factors to take into consideration when deciding which size is best for your needs.

Design

Deciding on the design is one of the first things you will do when creating your custom coin. Laying out your design beforehand will help you determine which size is best.

One of our professionals will help you create the design you have in mind, and make recommendations as to which sizes your design will fit best on.

If you want your coin to have a lot of details, generally a larger size is better. A larger coin will allow those details to show through and help people appreciate them more.

If your design is more simple, a smaller coin will work just fine. Considering how much you want to put on the coin will help you determine which size is best.

Budget

Your budget is another important factor in deciding what size is best. The price per coin increases as the size of the coin increases. You do get a discount the more coins you buy, but that’s not always a reasonable option for everyone.

Things like how detailed the design is, adding color, and if you are putting a design on both sides of the coin will all affect the coin price. The key is to find the right balance between all of these things as your trying to make a coin that fits into your budget.

It’s also important to remember that on top of the price per coin, you will also be responsible for the price of the mold of the coin. This is a one time fee, added onto your order total. The price of the mold also increases as the coin size increases.

Purpose

Lastly, it’s important to consider the purpose of the coin. Do you want it to be something that people can carry around with them in their pocket? Or do you imagine it being displayed?

A large coin is perfect for being framed and put on display in a home or an office. Smaller coins will easily fit in an individuals wallet or purse.

A good visual reference is a quarter. A quarter is a little less than 1 inch in diameter. you can lay multiple quarters next to each other to get an idea of what a 1, 2, and 3-inch coin would look like.

The Perfect Size For Your Needs

Picking a challenge coin size can seem overwhelming when trying to consider all of these different factors. Determine ahead of time your budget, purpose, and design help simplify the process. Our professionals will help you design the perfect coin for your needs!

For more questions or help, call our office or complete our free online quote

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.

For Your Hero: Firefighter Gifts

You breathe a sigh of relief because he’s home safe again.

It feels like you’ve been holding your breath since he left—hours ago.

You thought it might get easier as time went on but it didn’t. Every time he gets called to a fire, you worry he might not come back.

And how could you not?

Our firemen and women put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. They run into the flames while everyone else runs the other way.

So whether it’s a firefighter friend’s birthday, anniversary with your firefighter partner, or just a regular Tuesday, show the firefighter in your life how much you appreciate them with one of these great firefighter gifts.

Gifts with a Practical Element

Duffle Bag

The fire station is often a firefighter’s home away from home. A custom firefighter duffle bag is the perfect gift to ensure that your firefighter has all the essentials when he or she is on duty.

Tool Roll Made from Retired Fire Hose

Okay, we have to admit, this is not the only gift on this list that is made from an old fire hose. I mean, in this day an age, with the importance of reusing and recycling, a gift like this is sure to be a winner.

It’s safe to say your firefighter may already be set when it comes to tools, they probably already have plenty. But do they have a cool place to store them? Probably not!

That’s where the tool roll comes in. It’s practical and eco-friendly—hard to beat that!

Travel Mug

Living life so that you’re ready to go at the drop of a hat makes for a lot of half-finished mugs of coffee.

Keep your firefighter’s coffee tank full and avoid wasting the good stuff by giving your firefighter the gift of an insulated travel mug.

You’ve got the freedom to personalize them, and there are some mugs that claim to keep your drinks hot for up to 30 hours! That’s plenty of time to enjoy your cup o’ Joe, on duty or off.

Personalized Paracord Bracelet

If their choice of profession is any indication of their personality, it’s safe to say your firefighter loves adventure.

What better way to make sure they’re always prepared—whatever adventure they may embark upon—than the gift of a Paracord bracelet?

Some bracelets are essentially mini-survival kits with a compass and a loud whistle to help them find their way should they lose their way.

Fire Hose Toiletry Bag

Remember how I talked about loving the retired fire hose gift ideas? Well, here’s another one.

Having a home away from home means always making sure you’ve got the tools to stay fresh. Your firefighter needs to be able to start their day with a fresh face and clean teeth.

And where do they keep these essential tools when they’re on-call at the station? In their new fire hose wash bag!

Firefighter Gifts That Are Plain Fun

Upcycled Bottle Opener

Sticking to our recycled theme, this antique fire hose nozzle has been turned into a bottle opener, and it is exactly what your firefighter needs in his or her life.

Fire Hose Can Coolers

Can’t stop, won’t stop this upcycle train!

Keep your firefighter’s drink nice and cool on a hot summer’s day with some can coolers made from decommissioned fire hoses.

Home Décor

There are a plethora of firefighting-themed items to decorate a firefighter’s home and garden.

From hard-hat clocks to shelves in the shape of fire escapes, you’re sure to find something to make your firefighter smile.

If your firefighter enjoys being out in the garden, there is no shortage of garden gnomes out there to keep him or her company.

Fire Hose Belt

If your firefighter needs a bit of help to keep their pants from drooping, give them a belt made from an old fire hose!

It’s got a practical element but also makes quite the fashion statement. 

Gifts That Tug at the Heartstrings

Personalized Keyring and Necklace Pair

If you’re feeling a little more sentimental, go for a gift that you and your firefighter can always keep close at hand.

The pair consists of a keyring with a sweet personal message on it and a hole in the shape of the Maltese Cross and a Maltese Cross-shaped necklace to fill the hole in the keyring.

It’s the perfect reminder of how much you appreciate each other and just how perfectly you fit together.

Personalized Challenge Coin

If you’re choosing to go down the more custom route, think about getting your firefighter a challenge coin.

Challenge coins originated in the military, but the tradition has now spread to fire departments, police departments, and veterans.

They have grown to take on an even more powerful meaning, as well. While they are still used as a challenge for friends to buy a round of drinks, they can also be used as a way for a person to show they are in need of support.

Whenever they’re feeling low or if they’re suffering from PTSD, they don’t have to let out a cry for help, they can simply pull out their challenge coin to let everyone know they need someone to talk to.

Show your brave firefighter that you’re there for them with a challenge coin.

Show Your Support

The best gift you can give your firefighter is to show them how much you appreciate them.

These firefighter gifts all show that you love and support your firefighter and that you’re there for them when they need you.

Take a look around to find the right challenge coin for your firefighter, and give them the gift of support.

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.