Tips for Designing a Masonic Challenge Coin

Masonic Challenge Coin Design Tips

A masonic challenge coin brings your fraternity together. Here’s how to create a meaningful design that represents your brotherhood to anyone that sees it.

What if the key to bringing your frat brothers together could fit inside your pocket?

The Masonic challenge coin is becoming more and more popular among fraternities, from college fraternities to police and fire fraternities. It provides a portable and stylish way to verify who is (and who is not) among your fraternal order.

However, a challenge coin can only be cool and stylish if it has a cool and stylish design. Otherwise, no one will want to take it out of their pocket.

If you want the hottest challenge coin around, keep reading to discover our top design tips!

The Point of a Masonic Challenge Coin

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to designing an awesome Masonic challenge coin. First, though, it’s worth addressing what the point of these coins really is.

Some fraternities treat it as part of a brother’s initiation. In this sense, getting a challenge coin indicates full admission into the brotherhood.

In a related sense, some fraternities offer challenge coins to friends of the brotherhood. This is rarer, but it helps to underscore how close you see the relationship between this person and your order.

The original purpose of the challenge coin is pretty simple. Someone can initiate a coin check by taking out their fraternal coin. Every brother in the area must now produce their own coin.

If someone does not have their coin on them, they must now buy the next round of drinks. If the challenged man produces a coin, though, it’s the challenger who buys the drinks.

This helps encourage everyone to have their coin on them at all times!

Power of Symbolism

When you hear about a fraternal coin, you might be thinking of something simple. However, traditional Masonic coins actually used a lot of imagery that was tied to their symbolic beliefs.

For example, Masons truly valued the labor that we perform each day. A challenge coin with laboring hands or tools helps to symbolize how important this person or this order takes their work.

Many of those masonic values are still shared by brotherhoods such as the Fraternal Order of the Police. Giving a member such a symbolic coin helps to reward their own hard work while underscoring the brotherhood’s belief in labor.

Acronyms Ahoy

In addition to symbols, many traditional Masonic coins used acronyms. In most cases, these acronyms were very highly specific.

For example, one common acronym was “H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S.” This long acronym actually stood for “Hiram the Widow’s Son Sent to King Solomon,” a Bible story that plays prominently in Masonic culture and society.

If you want to blend old and new, you can create acronyms that correspond to your own order’s values. These special acronyms can help your brotherhood feel tighter, and they make for an interesting conversation piece if any non-brothers end up seeing your coin.

The Right Size

We’ve been focusing a lot on symbols and acronyms. However, there is a more fundamental question to answer: just how big should the coin be?

For the most part, challenge coins are around the same size as standard coins. Some may be a little bit larger, which brings both advantages and disadvantages.

With a larger coin, you have more real estate. This gives you room to include larger images, longer acronyms, and so on.

At the same time, the coin is meant to be easily portable so keep that in mind when creating your masonic challenge coin.

Color Versus Discretion

What color should your challenge coin be? That ultimately depends on your organization as well as how you will be using the coins.

Many organizations include bold and bright colors. These colors translate really well to eye-catching coins (such as fire-engine red for a fireman’s challenge coin).

However, some organizations want their coins and coin challenges to be more discrete. If you want your challenge coin to easily blend in with other coins, you may need to use more basic colors.

Choosing the Right Symbols

If you want to channel masonic symbols instead of your own, you have plenty of symbols to choose from!

Many masons loved symbols like a hammer and a compass because these represented their love of building. Some symbols had “G” between the tools to celebrate both God and geometry, both of which they saw as a major part of their lives.

Gloves are a symbol encouraging the Mason to keep themselves clean. This may mean metaphorical cleanliness (such as spiritual purity) and literal cleanliness (not letting their dirty work destroy their clothing and appearance).

The all-seeing eye is a popular symbol that meant God was always watching. This symbol is so popular it has endured as a symbol of various conspiracy theories.

There are tons of symbols to choose from. The important part is to pick the one that best represents the individual members and collective beliefs of your fraternity.

Bringing the Frat Together

Now you know how to design a masonic challenge coin. But do you know who can turn your awesome design into a reality?

We specialize in providing custom challenge coins to fraternities all over the world. We have worked with masons, university fraternities, corporations, firefighters, and police.

Whatever your vision is for your awesome masonic challenge coin, we are here to bring it to life. All you have to do is check out our types of coins and go from there!

The History and Rules of the Challenge Coin

The challenge coin is something few people know about, but those who do, these coins are very symbolic and meaningful. Learn more about the history of challenge coins and the rules of giving/receiving them in our article.

Never heard of a challenge coin? Don’t worry — you’re not the only one. The reality, though, is that the challenge coin has a long and intriguing history.

Although the challenge coin is something that few people know about, these coins are very symbolic and meaningful among those who have received them.

Here’s a glimpse at the history of the challenge coin and at the rules you’ll need to follow when giving and receiving them.

Let’s get started!

The Purpose and Appearance of a Challenge Coin

Many traditions have helped to build camaraderie among military personnel over the years. However, carrying challenge coins is one of the most well-respected ones. And today, they aren’t restricted to the military (even though they largely remain a mystery among those who are not in the armed forces).

Challenge coins are essentially small tokens or medallions that signify that people are members of certain organizations.

The diameters of challenge coins are usually between 1.5 and 2 inches, and these coins are typically around 1/10 inch thick. However, their sizes and styles vary greatly. Some may even take the shapes of dog tags, arrowheads, pentagons, and shields.

Challenge coins are usually made of nickel, copper or pewter and feature various finishes. Some feature simple designs, whereas others have more elaborate designs and highlights.

The Coin’s Origination

It’s not completely clear exactly where and why the challenge coin tradition began. However, we do know that military service and coins go back much farther than the modern age — possibly as far back as Ancient Rome.

In Rome, if soldiers excelled in battle one day, they would receive their typical day’s wages along with a separate bonus coin each. According to some accounts, these bonus coins were specially minted, featuring the marks of the legions from which they came. As a result, some soldiers apparently kept their coins as mementos, instead of spending them on wine and women.

These types of coins are still handed out today to reward people for jobs well done, particularly in the military. However, some administrators treat them much like autographs and business cards that they can store in their own collections.

Still, some soldiers use challenge coins today as identification badges proving that they served in certain units. Meanwhile, other challenge coins are distributed to the civilian population for publicity purposes or are sold as fundraising tools.

Possibly the First Challenge Coin

Another well-known story about the emergence of the challenge coin dates back to the First World War. At that time, a rich officer gave his men bronze medallions featuring the insignia of their flying squadron. Not long after that, a young flying ace was shot down and captured.

Germans are said to have removed everything from the ace’s person except for a pouch he was wearing — one that held his medallion. After he escaped to France, he was sentenced to die, as the French labeled him a spy. However, the ace presented his medallion as proof of his identity.

Because one of the French soldiers recognized the insignia, France delayed the ace’s execution. After his identity was confirmed, the ace was returned to his flying unit.

Later, holes were drilled in these types of medallions so that military men could place them around the neck rather than inside leather pouches.

The Challenge

So, where exactly does the “challenge” idea come from?

According to some stories, “the challenge” started after the Second World War in Germany. Americans stationed in Germany began to conduct “pfennig checks,” or checks for this low-denomination German coin. If you couldn’t produce a pfennig when someone else called a check, you had to buy the beers.

The pfennig check later evolved to a unit medallion check, with unit members challenging one another by slamming their medallions down on a bar. Any member who lacked his medallion had to purchase drinks for everyone else who had their coins. Meanwhile, if everyone could present a medallion, the challenger was the one who had to buy the drinks.

The same essentially applies today.

However, instead of firmly placing your challenge coin on the bar to initiate a coin check, you can raise your coin in the air and shout that you’re initiating a check. You could also accidentally initiate a check if you inadvertently drop your challenge coin.

In addition, to succeed in a challenge, you must have your challenge coin within arm’s length from you. If you don’t, well — tough luck.

Now, naturally, you may refuse to buy drinks for everyone if you end up losing the challenge. Note, however, that this is a detestable crime — one that may require you to return your coin to the agency that issued it to you.

And another thing: Challenge coin checks are allowed anytime and anyplace. So, be prepared.

Coins Today

If you receive a challenge coin today, you’ll likely get it via a secret handshake. This isn’t always the case, but it is a tradition upheld by many.

You can receive a challenge coin by being a part of a police department or fire department or by being involved with the Boy Scouts or the Lions Club, for example. The challenge coin has become a highly collectible and long-lasting way for people to show their allegiance anyplace and anytime.

How We Can Help

We offer high-quality, prestigious and custom-made coins for your organization. We are confident you will not find better craftsmanship anywhere else.

Our designers can use your emblems and colors to highlight the achievements and occasion you are interested in recognizing. Then, you’ll be able to review a proof showing you how your coin will look. If you see anything you don’t like, you can easily make the necessary changes to get your coin perfect.

You can expect your newly minted coins to show every detail of your design. And all of our products are individually packaged and shipped at no cost.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about the challenge coin and how we can deliver the perfect custom coins to you this year. Just fill out the price quote below to begin the process for your next custom challenge coin!