A challenge coin is typically a medallion or small coin that bears the emblem or insignia of an organization. They are normally given to members of the organization when they have been challenged, hence the name. In general, a challenge coin is presented to a member when they display courage, achieve a particular goal, or have helped to enhance the morale of their fellow members.
Although the exact origins of a challenge coin are not fully understood, it is known that they date back to Roman times. Over 2000 years ago, Roman soldiers would receive a type of challenge coin as part of their wages if they accomplished something of note. While they were coins, they were not meant to be spent. Rather, they were used as rewards for different types of achievements.
Also, such coins were also used in the same manner as business cards are today. They identified soldiers of certain units which used for publicity purposes.
The modern challenge coin originated during the First World War. A flying squadron commander gave his pilots bronze medallions to boost morale. When a pilot who escaped capture reached the French lines, he presented the coin to the soldiers as proof of his identity. This story became so famous that it revived the practice of challenge coins.
Facts & Features
Although challenge coins are mostly associated with the military, they are used in many other organizations as well ranging from law enforcement to sports teams to schools and even symphony orchestras.
Since the 1990s, challenge coins have been issued by US presidents. Most often, the president will award a challenge coin to a member of the military, but there is no limitation as to the recipient. Challenge coins are pervasive in Western culture, although they are growing in popularity around the world. Of course, since part of their function is to help market the organization, they have become a big part of the coin business.
Why Use a Challenge Coin?
There are good reasons why a challenge coin makes the perfect addition to your group or organization.
Identification: They provide a basic form of identity that can be cherished by the members of your group. This means that challenge coins can be given out to new members once they have been fully accepted. It becomes more than a simple ID, but a source of pride.
Morale Boosting: Apart from identification, challenge coins may also boost morale when given out for achieving goals. From completing a basic challenge to demonstrating bravery or courage under trying circumstances, challenge coins make for an exceptional reward.
Longevity: When you consider that coins are made to last, this provides insight into why they are so popular among members of organizations. A challenge coin as part of a collection is a source of pride that will last for a long time. They can even be passed down through the generations as part of the family history.
Challenge coins have a unique history and offer advantages to organizations looking to boost their sense of identify and morale.