A Look at Challenge Coin History and Why They’re Still Cool Today

Challenge coins are an excellent morale booster for teams. Part of the reason lies in challenge coin history and traditions. Find out more about where challenge coins originated and how they’ve stayed popular all this time.

Are you looking for an original, unique marker of membership for your team or club? Challenge coins are special keepsakes and fantastic tools for ongoing teambuilding. Best of all is their fascinating history.

From Romans and Renaissance nobility to WWI pilots, challenge coins have played an interesting part in human history! Learn more about challenge coin history and just how they’ll turn you into a club hero here.

Challenge Coins

Challenge coins are small commemorative coins or medallions. You engrave them with a special insignia or message. The idea is to share within any special group as a mark of membership.

Think military units, civil society groups, sororities, fraternities, work teams or graduating class-groups. They are also bought and sold as collector items. In the military, challenge coins unit commanders give them to a unit member to mark special achievements.

Challenge Coin History

The story of the challenge coin’s history is unique. According to the legend, a US army lieutenant had coins made for his WW1 squadron. A pilot was captured behind enemy lines. When he escaped and made it across the border, a French patrol had no way to identify him.

Not recognizing his accent, they figured he was a spy from the enemy side. To avoid execution, the pilot showed his Challenge Coin to prove his identity and his US nationality. It saved his life.

There are histories of challenge coins going back even before this WWI tale. The Roman Empire gave them to soldiers for special achievements. During the Renaissance, they were called ‘Portrait Medals’.

These were handed among members of the royal family or nobility, to mark special occasions. Even today, the US President hands a challenge coin out to mark special occasions.

Fun Ways to Use Challenge Coins

The challenge coin gives members of your team a real sense of identity. But they are also a way to play ongoing team building ‘coin checks’. They don’t call it a challenge coin for nothing!

Once your team has been awarded their coins, you can initiate the coin challenge. One member can yell, ‘coin check’. Everyone has to show they are carrying their challenge coins. Anyone who isn’t carrying their coin has to buy a drink – or whatever other rules you set – for the challenger, and everyone carrying their coin.

Where to Buy Them

To mark a special event or membership of your club or team, consider challenge coins. At Metal Promo, we offer die struck challenge coins in a range of sizes. We also one or two side color options, and a range of edging options.

You can customize the challenge coin, mixing it up each year for members to collect all the coins in the series. We offer free artwork, free shipping, guaranteed quality and competitive pricing. We love posting verified reviews from customers on our website. We look forward to putting yours there, too.

Get a Free Quote

If you’re feeling inspired by challenge coin history, consider having some made. Your club, team, or military unit will love the physical symbol of their membership, or marker of their special achievement.

You can talk to us about a free quote and some ideas on artwork. Find your favorite options on our website, and get in contact today!

Your Guide to Challenge Custom Coins

Challenge coins have a lot of value. If you’re unfamiliar with the tradition of custom coins, read all about challenge coins here.

custom coinsAn estimated 30% of war veterans will experience PTSD at least once in their lives. Every year, nearly 45,000 Americans take their own lives.

More than 50% of people are deeply unhappy with their current place of work.

Think these three statistics are unrelated?

Think again.

Whether you or someone you love has served in the military, has survived a suicide attempt, or just feels unchallenged and unappreciated in their work life, chances are that what they really need is someone to talk to, and someone to listen to them.

However, as we’ve all likely experienced, sometimes asking for help can be hard.

This is where challenge and custom coins can come into play.

But what are challenge coins, and how can they help to both improve and save lives?

Read on to find out.

The Different Uses Of Challenge Coins

So, what exactly are these custom coins, also referred to as challenge coins?

They began, primarily, as a military tradition.

In the past (and still to this day!) members of a regiment were each given a single coin. When a soldier showed their coin, it automatically meant that everyone else in the room needed to produce their coin as well. If someone had lost their coin, or simply didn’t have it on them, they would be responsible for buying everyone a round.

These custom coins not only helped to develop a strong sense of camaraderie among military members. As time progressed, the coins began to take on a more significant symbol.

After the end of their military service, military veterans often produce their coins in a civilian environment. This signals to the other vets in the room that they need someone to talk to. Perhaps they’re going through a tough bout of PTSD, maybe they’re feeling depressed, or they might just be looking for a friend.

Whatever the reason, showing custom coins and challenge coins in the “real world” is a sign that help, in any form, was needed. It is also a symbol of mutual respect and friendship — a way to find people that know exactly what you’re going through, because they’ve been there themselves.

Different Types Of Challenge Coins

Because of the high success rate of the military challenge coins, custom coin culture has exploded in recent years.

Not only are they incredible collector’s items, they can also help to celebrate a special occasion or work as a part of your employee recognition program.

Today, there are many types of coins for people from all walks of life.

For example, there are coins for firefighters, police officers, Masonic members, veterans, and even standard corporate coins.

Especially popular are suicide prevention coins, which usually come with either a yellow or white ribbon placed subtly in the design.

Whenever someone is feeling suicidal or depressed, all they need to do is present the coin to a person that they trust. The coin will serve as an unspoken signal that the person in distress needs immediate attention — without them having to do anything other than hand the coin over.

In short, no matter which type of profession you want to help commemorate, chances are that there are already several custom coins for it.

How Custom Coins Help People

Now that you know all about the different types and uses of challenge coins, let’s take a look at how they actually help people.

First of all, especially for those who once served in the military, it’s easy to feel forgotten or overlooked. It’s also hard not to feel like a burden upon a return to civilian life.

These coins help veterans — and their family members — to open up the lines of communication. In some cases, challenge coins are even used as recruitment tools.

When a new member of the military gets their challenge coin, it’s like getting an acceptance into an exclusive club. Some may even choose to have a special ceremony to commemorate the occasion.

Challenge coins are also a wonderful and effective way to boost employee morale, and to make the people working for you feel valued.

The flexibility of the meaning of challenge coins makes them the perfect solution for nearly any workplace issue.

Is someone dealing with sexual harassment at work, or is a survivor of assault? They can simply hand their coin over to a human resources representative to signal safely and without drawing attention to themselves that they need help.

Want to incorporate more employee feedback in your leadership style at the office? When an employee hands you their coin, it can signal that they’re having a problem or see an issue that needs addressing privately.

Need Custom Coins? Let Us Help

We hope that this post has helped you to better understand the meaningful — and sometimes truly lifesaving — history behind challenge coins.

Now that you know more about how they can help to unite veterans, your employees, those struggling with mental illness, and much more?

It’s time to have your own custom coins created.

That’s where we come in.

We offer a wide range of classic designs, in addition to working with you to create custom artwork that will make your coins stand out.

Spend some time on our website to learn more about how our years of experience, dedication to quality craftsmanship, and expertise in dealing with sensitive issues surrounding challenge coins can help you to create the perfect pieces.

We offer your 100% satisfaction guarantee, and our glowing testimonials speak for themselves. Reach out to us to get your custom price quote today.