According to Syracuse University, the history of the challenge coin dates back to WWI. Since then, many institutions, both formal and informal have adopted these tokens. Some of the rarest ones are valuable collector’s items. Find out more about this interesting topic and the different types of challenge coins found nowadays.
What Is a Challenge Coin?
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A challenge coin is a specially designed token used to represent a membership of a club or organization. Often, they’re handed out to recognize a special achievement.
Originally, all challenge coins had a circular shape, but anything goes in modern times.
Each group or organization has unique challenges associated with these coins and members must abide by them or risk losing their token.
They’re important for building camaraderie and encouraging teamwork.
Types of Challenge Coins-
Military Challenge Coins
As the founders of the challenge coin tradition, the military still stands steadfastly by these customs today. As such, you’ll find some of the most creative examples of challenge coins in military collections.
Military units are extremely proud of their challenge coins and there’s a healthy rivalry between these groups to come up with the most eye-catching and interesting coins.
Sometimes, challenge coins serve as entry requirements to exclusive events like birthday celebrations or formal balls.
As Commander in Chief of the armed forces, each U.S. president gets to craft a challenge coin of their choosing.
Navy Challenge Coins
Navy challenge coins typically take a mischievous outlook toward tradition, featuring pop art and cartoon characters as part of the theme.
Some common naval mementos include coins commemorating:
- Various ships and submarine crews
- Navy air wings
- Promotions and retirements
- Special Ops forces
- Important events, like deployment
The South Park coin commemorates various deployment locations humorously, while others feature a more aggressive wording. The Deep Sea Diver coin is one of the rarest worldwide, acknowledging navy divers who complete dangerous and difficult tasks.
Police Challenge Coins
It makes sense that challenge coins spread to the police services too since many veterans choose a career in law enforcement after leaving the military. They’re especially common in specialized teams like the CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security forces.
According to CustomChallengeCoins police coins may also boast a wide variety of designs and finishes. Sometimes they’re used to honor certain members of the police force or to commemorate the successful completion of a special project.
The police may also hand them out at community fundraising events, like marathons.
Firefighter Challenge Coins
Like the police, firefighters also value challenge coins as a means to build camaraderie and commemorate supreme acts of bravery and dutiful service.
Some common engravings found on firefighter coins include:
- The patron saint of firefighters, Saint Florian
- A Maltese Cross
- The Star of Life, to represent a firefighter’s six main tasks
- The Firefighter Helmet – an international symbol for firefighters
- The Fire Chief Engraved coin for leadership
- Fire Chief Nickel Coin reserved for fire chiefs
Other challenge coins, usually worn on formal occasions, feature the firefighters’ prayer on one or both sides.
The most common challenge coins used by firefighters depict their fire station or fire truck squad.
Other stand-out features on firefighter coins might include representations of their fire truck or firehouse, usually in a color that matches their truck.
Mason Challenge Coins
Masonry still plays a major role in modern society, and freemason groups are still active and strong throughout the USA. The long history and strong traditions of these organizations make them the perfect match for challenge coins.
In these instances, challenge coins serve as reminders of their symbols, used as guides for leading a successful life.
These tokens boast a high degree of accuracy and craftsmanship.
Different types of masonic coins may commemorate:
- A particular mason or event
- Initiation tokens
- Pivotal parts of the initiation rites
One Masonic family minted a coin that passed as legal currency throughout the British Empire during the late 1700s.
Sports Challenge Coins
There are two main types of sports challenge coins, those symbolizing teams, and those commemorating prestigious sports events.
Some teams, especially in the NFL, like to honor veterans and military personnel with special nights at the stadium or appreciation events. In these instances, they often design challenge coins to celebrate the occasion.
It’s a great way to show appreciation for their efforts and also a good PR move that reminds the recipients of a great night out hosted by their favorite team.
Corporate Challenge Coins
Businesses can use challenge coins in much the same way that sports teams do. They’re a quirky, fun alternative to business cards and work well for special events and promotions.
They’re ideal for commemorating employee achievements and as a way to welcome new team members on board. You can hand them out to mark a company’s anniversary milestones or to celebrate a new product line.
If you’re looking for something different to include in your conference or expo swag bag, challenge coins are just the thing. They also make great mementos for retiring employees and work well as service awards.
It’s easy to include your company logo and brand colors on a challenge coin and include striking designs that resonate with your clients.
Challenge Coins Offer Fun For Everyone
Are you inspired to start a collection of challenge coins, now that you know the ins and outs of these trinkets? Fortunately, you don’t need to sign up for a life-threatening occupation to qualify.
You can order your custom challenge coins for your club or business and join in this long-held team-building tradition. Would you like some more ideas on how to build better teams and thrive at home and work? Browse our blog for inspiration.