Still unfamiliar to many, challenge coins have been around for the last 50 years at least (some people claiming that their roots go back a hundred years to centuries ago during the time of ancient Rome) and provided a source of somewhat significance in terms of using it as a medallion or a badge to commemorate a great number of reasons.
Historically, these military coins have been given only to those in the Armed Services as a token for their services or to higher ranking officials of the government who have great contributions to the military. In today’s world however, it is no longer the case.
These coins that are mass produced in today’s market are quite inexpensive to create, and they are commonly made with a zinc alloy casting or a die struck brass (or bronze). They come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common ones range from 1.5 inch to 2 inches in diameter. The styling and design is where the most difference can be seen from one to the other. Coins can be produced in various colors, textures, insignias, text, logos, and a number of other factors.
Military coins handed out to squadron members bore the insignia of their team back during the time of the war. There is no guaranteed story on the true origin of the challenge coins, but one of the most resounding ones involved an Air Force lieutenant in the 40s who gave his whole team challenge coins with their squadron’s insignia. After being captured by German patrol, he escaped and was found by the French. One of the French soldiers recognized the insignia on his coin and from that came the first use of the coin, which is identification for the troops.
One mass producer of these challenge coins is Challenge Coins 4 Less, a company that caters to personalized challenge coins in which the customer could choose his specific designs, text, logos, style, or anything else that he wants to see with his one of a kind collectible.
It seems logical for members of the Armed Services such as the Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines, and other law enforcement authorities to be honored with a medallion in the form of coins that they can be proud to brag about.
One of the more popular organizations to have their insignia on a challenge coin, while not being a member of the military, is the World Series of Poker group. It’s not hard to see why they should have coins in their pockets, and it’s a witty way of announcing one’s membership to such promotions. More than just poker chips, all participants of these games get their own custom made mementos in the form of a coin.
A growing market for military coins today involves the police and law enforcement branch. These hip medallions don’t serve as a badge (or would have as much value), but hey they are pretty fashionably cool. There is nothing illegal about being cool. A number of fire departments, SWAT teams, bomb diffuse groups, and other agencies have already gotten their collectibles and it’s not too far off for other groups to follow.
The most prominent military coins may very well be those that are given (or given by) the current and former presidents of the United States. At least a few of the POTUS have been known to either collect the coins during their stay in office, or hand out coins as a medallion and symbol of good service to the brave and women who serve their country. Some presidents receive military coins as a symbol of gratitude for their diplomatic visits to other countries.