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

The Airman’s Coin: 8 Interesting Facts About the Air Force Challenge Coin

The airman’s coin has a rich history. Given to airmen at their Air Force graduation, it signifies their accomplishments. Learn more here.

Military challenge coins are an object of honor and tradition. To receive a challenge coin is a recognition for the merit of something you’ve done.

From military to civilian organizations, a typical challenge coin has an organization’s insignia. Leaders or commanders present a challenge coin to a member of the unit or organization in recognition of special achievement or honor.

The Airman’s Coin is no exception to a deep tradition of history and honor. Here’s a look at eight interesting facts about the Airmen’s coin and the tradition of military challenge coins. 

1. From Trainee to Airman

Air Force trainees receive the Airman’s coin at the time they complete basic military training. Trainees receive their coins during the coin ceremony. 

This coin is the first and most significant coin of an airman’s career. It’s typically given by the Wing Commander or Command Chief Master Sergeant. Once a trainee receives the Airman’s coin, they are no longer referred to as “trainee.” 

They are officially known as “Airmen.”  

2. The Origin of Challenge Coins

There are several versions of the origin of the challenge coin. The most widely accepted story took place during World War I.

A lieutenant had bronze unit medallions created for his squadron. He gave one medallion to each member in the squadron. 

The French captured one of the squadron pilots after his damaged plane landed behind German lines. The French believed he was a spy. The pilot faced execution.

The only thing the pilot had with him was his squadron medallion. The French saw that he was an American and rewarded him with a bottle of wine–instead of death. 

From this story (or a similar story) the idea of challenge coins grew across all branches of the military, including the Air Force and the Airman’s coin. 

3. There’s a Technique to Giving a Coin

The USAF challenge coin tradition follows the traditional challenge coin protocol.

Awarding a coin is more than handing over a coin. You don’t mail a coin or slide it across a table.

The airman coin passes from the giver to the receiver during a strong handshake. The coin sits in the palm of the commander’s hand. During the handshake, the coin transfers to the recipient’s hand. 

4. Versions of the Airman’s Coin

The Air Force challenge coin is different today than the original version. 

The first version of the Airman’s coin featured an eagle on the coin’s front. The eagle claws its way out of the coin. The words “Aerospace Power” sit underneath the eagle.

The reverse side of the coin includes a white star with a red dot in the center. This is the Hap Arnold star. On the coin, a pair of wings flanks the.  

Around the edge of the coin are the words of the USAF Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do.

For the Air Force’s 60th anniversary in 2007, the Airmen’s coin featured a special anniversary design. 

The latest version of the coin uses the new Air Force symbol instead of the eagle.

5. What Are Challenges?

Once an airman receives a coin, they must keep with them at all times. They never know when a challenge could happen.

During a “challenge” (or “coin check”), anyone in can request all other members to produce their coins. 

Any member who can’t immediately show their coin has to buy the challenger a drink. While the losing task can be anything, it’s most often buying drinks for other members.

If everyone has their coins, the challenge has to buy a round of drinks for the unit.

6. Earning Additional Coins

Aside from the Airmen’s coin, Airmen can receive other coins throughout their military careers.

Coins include those presented to them by a first sergeant or by the president for any service deemed meritorious. A collection of coins often tells the story of an airman’s career. 

7. Personal Coin Designs

One of the perks of becoming a commander in the Air Force is creating your own coins. Officers typically have a personal budget for coins. They can create coins to represent why they choose to give coins to other airmen. 

Coins should represent excellence and significance. The design should recognize airmen who go above and beyond to serve their unit and their country. 

One coin is the “first salute” coin. It’s often presented to the first enlisted member to salute a newly-commissioned officer. 

8. The Coin Has Rules to Follow

As with many traditions, the Airman’s coin comes with the rules of challenge coins

Some of these rules include:

  • Explaining the rules when giving a coin. 
  • You must carry your coins at all times.
  • Do not ever give someone else a coin in response to a challenge. 
  • You are responsible for replacing a lost coin as soon as possible. 
  • There are no exceptions to the rules. 
  • A challenge coin is not a belt buckle or jewelry. Carry it, don’t wear it. 

Receiving an Airman’s coin or other Air Force challenge coin is a great honor. It’s also a great responsibility. 

Airmen who carry their coins within the rules show they understand the gravity of the honor. 

The Airman’s Coin is an Important Tradition

The Airman’s coin is an important USAF tradition following the tradition of military challenge coins. 

Airmen work hard to receive the Airman’s coin. The coin ceremony ushers them from trainee to airmen.

The Airman’s coin shows that the former trainee now understands the full range of air and space power capabilities. They have finished training to employ or support some aspect of these capabilities.

As airmen rise in ranks, Custom Challenge Coins takes great pride in helping commanders choose the perfect design for their coins. We understand the importance of what challenge coins represent. We enjoy creating the perfect coin to recognize your own airmen. 

Our team represents families with members from all branches of the military. Contact us to let our team help your design and produce the perfect challenge coins to represent outstanding service to our country.