Many people in this generation know nothing about challenge coins. The few that do might be from the military or an organization that still uses these coins. The main reason for this is, there are many forms of identifying someone as part of a group. Challenge coins were used for the sole purpose of showing that a person belonged to a specific group or as part of an army. It was a token and an identity to most people.
The History Behind Challenge Coins
Even though there is no clear story on who started challenge coins, it is believed that they have been around since ancient Rome. Soldiers would receive a differently minted coin alongside their daily wages and choose to keep it instead of spending it on wine or women. Initially, what the coins would have was the team’s emblem they are fighting for, but this changed to include more color.
During world war one it was believed that a wealthy officer made these coins for his flying squad. One of the officers was captured by the German and released, where he fled to France. Initially mistaken for being a spy, he was only saved when the French noticed his medallion. Later on, they would drill holes into the coins so officers could wear them around their necks.
Where the Challenge Comes in
While these coins were used as a form of identity, there were also used when there was a challenge game. The rules of the game were simple and easy. All an officer had to do when they were out was take out his coin and call for a check. All the other officers with him would have to take out their coins as well. Any officer without a coin would have to buy the team a round of drinks. In case everyone had their coins, whoever called the challenge bought the round. Even though one can refuse to buy the drinks if they do not have their coin, this is considered a crime. The punishment usually had them taking back their coin to the agency.
Are Challenge Coins Still Used Today?
Challenge coins stay relevant to date. Although army rank insignia pins are more commonly used to identify the rank of the officers, the military still uses challenge coins to show that an office belongs to part of a team or squad. They are also used to award officers for their amazing work in the field. Over time, these coins are now available to the public. They are sold off in auctions to collectors as part of fundraising campaigns for the military. The military still uses them to award officers or as a form of identification.
Changes Made to the Coins
Even though these coins are still in use, a couple of things have changed. For one, they are not just round coins like the traditional coins. Many people are minting them to be in different shapes. Apart from the military, we now have people collecting these coins from auctions or even as gifts from friends. Another thing that has changed is, some organizations are also using these coins as part of their identity. Their uses have gone beyond the military.
If you were to receive a challenge coin, you might get it through a secret handshake, just like people did it in the past. These coins have come such a long way and are rich with history. Any organization that uses it understands just how vital these coins were in the past and sees the need to preserve the rich history. You can also get your coins minted for an organization or club you belong to since they make amazing identity items.