Challenge coins are typically made to about 1/10 of an inch thick and with diameters from 1.5 to 2 inches. The styles and sizes vary, depending on the unit or company. They are often made from copper, pewter or nickel. The finishes also vary, some use gold finish, such as the limited edition custom challenge coins. Designs range from simple engravings of insignias and mottos to elaborate multi-dimensional designs, enamel highlights, and various cutouts.
Challenge coins have around for decades, though the idea of it traces back to Ancient Rome. The military has popularized custom challenge coins, as a distinction among units and as an award for valor in the battlefield. Today, challenge coins are no longer limited in the military.All details are also provided in Challengecoins4less. Also, it is now being actively traded, among retirees and active military personnel, as well as civilian groups.
Origin of use
Basically, challenge coins were made and distributed among the members of military units, for identification and in recognition of acts of bravery during the war. The term “challenge coin” started after World War II, where American soldiers used a specific German coin, the pfennig, in a game. One soldier would produce the pfennig and challenge other soldiers in the room to produce their own pfennig. The one who did not have any pfennig or the last to bring out his pfennig was obliged to buy everyone a round of drinks. The pfennig was soon replaced by the special coins given for their units and for their acts of bravery.
The Special Forces and other military units even have a game, where everyone is expected to be within an arm’s reach of their coins. At any time and place, anyone can initiate the game by producing his challenge coin. Anyone who cannot show his challenge coin loses. This made carrying the challenge coin everywhere and taking good care of it a must among the military personnel. Aside from this, there are also other uses of custom challenge coins.
The military uses the challenge coin to recognize outstanding performance and service. It is often a token to recognize services that are worthy of distinction, but not enough merits to warrant an actual medal of honor. It is a way to boost morale among the ranks.
Challenge coins are also given in coin ceremonies, after graduating from training. The popular and rare Bull Dog coin was given to enlisted tail gunners of the B-52 heavy bombers after graduating from Air Force technical training. It was a symbol of the graduates’ entry into the Gunners Association. It is one of the rare challenge coins, as it is no longer made since the tail guns, and in turn the tail gunners’ positions, on surviving B-52s were removed in 1991.
Today, custom challenge coins are no longer limited to military use. It is gaining popularity among civilian organizations such as the Civil Air Patrol, NFL, NASCAR, fire departments, fraternal organizations, and police departments. They are given to certain members for their exemplary services or performances. It is also a symbol of membership to organizations and is also used as a token of gratitude or recognition.
The National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club is one group that popularized the civilian use of challenge coins. It has to be earned by the members, through exemplary achievements.
The Harley Owners Group or H.O.G. also made their own custom challenge coins. It is a symbol of the bond shared by all Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners. Carrying the challenge coin shows pride in ownership and a way of paying tribute to the people who serve.
Jon Favreau, director of the movie Iron Man 2, commissioned challenge coins and distributed these to US Air Force personnel. It was his way of showing gratitude for their cooperation when the first 2 Iron Man films were shot at Edwards Air Force Base in California.