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.

How to Practice Proper Military Challenge Coin Etiquette

As of 2016, there were about 20.4 million American veterans. The amount of veterans in the United States is sure to rise, and with that comes an increase in military challenge coins.

The challenge coin’s history originates in the armed forces–they’re meant to boost morale in the military. In fact, military challenge coins are often given out as a reward or as a representation of a certain organization. The coins often have military logos printed on them and sometimes show the number of years the recipient served.

You don’t have to have a relation to the military in order to use challenge coins, but you have to learn the rules. There’s a certain etiquette you should abide by when using the challenge coins. Whether you’re giving someone a coin or initiating a coin check, keep some of these challenge coin rules in mind.

What Exactly Is a Coin Check?

You should know what the coin challenge game is before you actually play it. Traditionally, when a service member or veteran initiates a coin check, they’re trying to connect with other veterans and military members.

A person can yell or call out that they’re starting a coin check. They also have the option to loudly slam their coin on a hard surface like a table or on the floor, so listen carefully.

Be careful not to accidentally drop your coin on the floor–you’ll automatically start a coin check. This is a punishment for not taking good care of your coin.

Everyone who owns a coin has to show it during coin checks. Make sure you always carry your coin with you, as coin checks can happen at any time.

Military Challenge Coin Etiquette

Challenge coins are honorable symbols that deserve to be taken care of. If you’re an owner of challenge coins, remember these rules for the next time you hit the bar or hang out with your buddies.

Always Explain the Rules

The game’s rules should always be explained to anyone who has been given a coin. It’s unfair to initiate a coin check when you haven’t explained the rules beforehand.

Stay Close to Your Coin

Try to keep your coin somewhere on your person. If you’re seen without your coin during a check, you’ll be responsible for buying drinks. You won’t be able to redeem yourself that night either, as you can’t be challenged more than once.

Not only is it important to carry your coin at all times, it’s also important not to put it down far from your seat. You’ll lose the game if you have to take more than four steps to get to your coin.

Challenge With Caution

If you’re thinking about starting a challenge the next time you’re at the bar with your friends, you should know that there could be some consequences. When everyone who’s challenged pulls out a coin, you’ll be paying for all of their drinks.

Don’t Hand Over Coins

Putting your coin in someone else’s hand during a challenge means that you’re giving it to them. Instead, showcase the coin on a table, hold it in the palm of your hand, or hold it up. Anyone who wants to take a closer look at the coin is obligated to bring it back to its spot.

Don’t Lose Your Coin

You’ll need to immediately replace your coin if you happen to lose it. Keep in mind that you aren’t exempt from the game even if you lost your coin. That means you’ll be paying for a ton of drinks.

Challenge Coins Aren’t Jewelry

You shouldn’t wear your coin like a bracelet or belt buckle. Definitely, don’t drill a hole in it to make a necklace. If you want to carry it around your neck, you can put it in a pouch that doubles as a necklace.

Try to keep your coin as clean as possible. Dirty coins are a sign of disrespect.

Challenges Can Happen Anywhere at Any Time

Don’t be blindsided by the next coin check. Always remember to take your coin with you before leaving the house because checks can happen at any place and time.

No Exceptions

Sorry, but there aren’t any exceptions to these rules. Whether you’re naked or clothed, you better be able to show your coin.

When to Give Someone a Challenge Coin

Maybe you want to honor someone for a good deed or for their hard work. There’s no better way than rewarding them with a challenge coin. Even if you’re not a veteran or a member of the armed forces, you can still use custom challenge coins.

Challenge coins are used among firefighters, police, businesses and even members of fraternal organizations. Some people even decide to use them as business cards–they’re much more memorable and less likely to be thrown out. Challenge coins are also frequently sold to raise money for a cause.

You can use challenge coins to reward employees after the completion of a special project or if a huge accomplishment has been made. The coin can be a representation of the achievement. When an employee or member is recognized for a job well done, they’ll be more satisfied with their job or organization.

How to Give Someone a Challenge Coin

Once you find the right moment to award someone a challenge coin, you have to make sure that you properly hand it to the recipient. Transferring the coin shouldn’t be dramatic or obvious.

Many veterans and soldiers had their coin handed to them during a handshake. A commander holds the coin in their hand until they get to shake hands with the soldier. The coin is then silently passed on to the soldier while they shake hands.

Get Custom Challenge Coins

Military challenge coins are a unique and memorable way to acknowledge someone for hard work or to advertise a business. There’s no better way to represent your business, employee, or organization than by creating a custom design on challenge coins.

We specialize in creating high-quality challenge coins that are customized to fit your needs. If you’re interested in custom challenge coins, contact us and request a quote.

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!

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!