Common Questions Asked About the Commander’s Coin

Challenge coins are a huge tradition in the military. But many people are still unsure of the commander’s coin tradition. Here are common questions asked.
Civilians may not be familiar with challenge coins, but their tradition is well-known throughout the military, and by many United States firefighters and law enforcement departments, as well. For servicemen and women, a commander’s coin carries a significant meaning. While, for the rest of us, it’s a custom that’s often shrouded in mystery.

 

 

The most widely-accepted version of its’ beginnings dates back to World War I when an American fighter pilot was captured and traded his own cherished medallion for personal freedom.

Whether that’s truly where the challenge coin got its’ start may still be a subject of debate, the fact remains that today, these coins are a widespread symbol of honor among those who serve today.

Even the presidents have come to know and love the passing down of challenge coins, with each recent leader having his own uniquely-designed relic to share.

Still, the tradition tends to conjure up a long list of questions, both by those who take part in the custom and by onlookers, alike.

Read on to learn the answers to many of the most common questions surrounding the long-lived mysterious commander’s coin.

1. How Did the Challenge Coin Originate?

One of the stories accepted by many is the one that’s mentioned above.

After a WWI serviceman received a coin from his well-to-do superior, he was captured and escaped with little other than the shiny medallion he wore around his neck. A short time later he was captured by the French military, who mistook him as a German soldier-turned-spy. He regained his freedom only after he presented the challenge coin to his captors, proving that he was indeed an ally and not the enemy that they first believed him to be.

In an alternate version of facts, the coin’s introduction to the military has roots dating back to Ancient Rome. Rumor has it that men were often given coins to reward them for a day of hard work on the battlefield.

2. Who Was the First President to Mint His Own Commander’s Coin?

The traditional presidential challenge coin first began with President Bill Clinton. It has been followed by each president that has taken office since, including Presidents George Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Vice President Dick Cheney was the first VPOTUS to claim a uniquely designed coin made just for him. And, Vice President Joe Biden coined three different varieties of the personally-stamped coins.

Historically, the presidents of the United States and their vice presidents have reserved their medallions only for members of the armed forces, or for other supporters of the nation. Honorees have also included rare foreign dignitaries and the family members of those who have served our country.

3. How Are the Coins Typically Used Today?

Today, challenge coins are often presented to members of the military and throughout other U.S.-supporting police and fire departments. They serve as a way to commemorate one’s pledge to serve their country. And, they are also given to award various missions accomplished by said servicemen and women.

It’s common for a member who has served for many years to possess a collection of many different challenge coins, each representing a specific honor or milestone throughout their career.

4. What Is a “Coin Check”?

A “coin check” is a common practice among battalions and departments. It occurs when an officer or another superior declares “Coin check!” and all of the practicing members in attendance must present their coins ‘on-the-spot’.

The last member to show their coin often has to buy the others a beer. Or, they might offer another similar form of debt repayment to their faster-moving military brothers and sisters.

These “on-the-spot” coin checks, as they are often called, are popular among Veterans, both past and present. Although it’s a custom mostly taken in fun, the groups of men and women who have served take their roles very seriously. Owning a challenge coin is an honor that they carry with pride.

5. Should Civilians Take Part in the Trading of Challenge Coins?

Although it may have happened before, it’s not “the norm” for civilians to trade these coins for fun, or even to symbolize a special event or occasion.

Military challenge coins are a tradition that the members of service prefer to keep private.

It’s possible for civilians to “gift” the coins to non-military. But, this practice should only be reserved for certain special occasions.

That said, there are other variations of commemorative medallions that are often given to civilians. And, these coins are similar to those passed along through the military.

They might be presented to honorary civilian recipients for their graduation or other special occasions. Still, while similar in appearance, these aren’t the same challenge coins like those that hold the traditional meaning for military and service members.

Where Can You Learn More About Challenge Coins?

If you’re intrigued by the history of the commander’s coin, you might have an interest in visiting our site to find out more about this beloved military tradition. And, if you’re a member of the armed services yourself, you might even want to place an order for your own set of custom challenge coins.
We would love to help you find the coin that you’re looking for.

Visit our website today to place an order for your own challenge coins and be a part of the long-standing tradition of this honorable and precious token of appreciation!

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.