What Is a Challenge Coin?

Challenge coins are rooted in history and serve as a treasured tradition among many groups. Their origin is in the military, but they have transcended the troops and moved into other lines of work and settings. Here, we’ll dive into the history and use of challenge coins.

A Brief History

The tradition of the challenge coin started in World War I, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Military squadrons began creating their own coins of identity and belonging. They were informative to others in declaring a soldier’s affiliations but also were a source of camaraderie within a group. They differed from squadron to squadron and typically bore symbols.

Design and Significance

One challenge coin will differ greatly from another in terms of shape, size, and symbology. Typically made of metal, the coins reflect their issuing group. A squadron or other group may choose to include colors, pictures, and other symbols that have significance to the history and membership of the group. Then, in turn, the coins themselves become an identifier and quasi-logo of the group to which they belong.

The Challenge

Because it’s a tradition to honor and keep the challenge coin close, one member may challenge another to produce their coin without notice. If the challenged member is unable to produce their coin, there is typically a consequence or penalty, such as buying drinks for the group. The point is to always be prepared and show commitment to the fellowship by always holding onto the challenge coin.

Beyond the Military

Challenge coins originated in the military and are still most commonly used in that environment. However, their use has extended to other settings as well. Police officers, EMS professionals, and firefighters, with their strong military ties, have also adopted the practice of creating and issuing challenge coins. Other businesses and organizations without ties to the military have also caught on. It’s likely that there are groups within your sphere who keep the coins and extend challenges among fellow members.

Challenge coins provide a fun and significant way to pledge commitment to a group and enjoy the camaraderie of belonging. While they started in small squadrons during World War I, they have endured to this day and extend to non-military groups. Teams looking for a way to increase pride and belonging might want to consider creating their own challenge coin, and we can help! Contact The Emblem Authority today for more information about our custom challenge coins or to learn more about our other services.