Are you curious on how the challenge coins tradition came to be? These fascinating coins have a rich history which could be traced as far back as the time of the Ancient Roman Empire. One popular account happened during World War I. This story is the most accepted and well known legend about the beginnings of the coins.
Apparently, in one squadron, there was a wealthy lieutenant who presented his unit with a solid bronze medallion. This medallion is now known as a challenge coin. One pilot from this said unit placed his medallion inside a small leather pouch which he wore around his neck. The pilot’s aircraft was later attacked by the enemies and was severely damaged.
Traditions Of Challenge Coins Are As Follows:
He was captured upon being forced to land behind enemy lines. The Germans took all his possessions saved for the pouch around his neck and was put in a detention facility. He was fortunate that the facility was attacked by British forces as it gave him the opportunity to escape. He passed himself as a civilian. After much difficulty, the American pilot managed to go to a small French town.
The next problem was that he was without any personal identification and was again detained by French soldiers. Afraid that he was a German spy, the French soldiers decided to execute him. What saved him was the medallion in his leather pouch which he showed to a French Officer. The Officer recognized the insignia and decided to postpone the execution long enough for his identification to be validated.
The young American pilot was released and his squadron made it a tradition that all members of the unit should carry their medallions with them all the time. To ensure that they really bring the coins with them, coins can be challenged through coin checks. A coin check is a challenge to another coin holder.
If a coin holder displays his coin and challenges others to a coin check, those challenged should respond by displaying their own coins in the same manner. If the challenged didn’t bring his coin, then, he is obligated to buy the challenger a drink. However, if both have their coins, then the challenger will have to buy the challenged a drink.
Another story about the challenge coins involves the German Pfennig coin. During World War II, the West German Pfennig coin was equivalent to only a fraction of the US cent. With this kind of value, some of the US Military personnel assigned in the area did not bother to keep the pfennig coins, unless of course, they were broke and needed to save all they have.
It soon became a tradition that in any place that the military servicemen gathered for drinks, a soldier would call out a Pfennig Check. During a Pfennig Check, everyone had to empty their pockets to see if they have any Pfennig coins at hand. Having these coins meant that they were nearly broke and was exempted to the penalty. However, if a soldier could not show any Pfennig coin, it meant that he was rich enough to not bother keeping one and so, he’s also rich enough to buy a round of drinks for everyone.
Another tradition can be traced back to Vietnam during a time when soldiers carried a piece of ammunition that either helped or missed them. The practice became popular but became threatening as the soldiers carried around them much more dangerous weapons as time passed. The commanders decided to ban it and instead, gave out metal coins with the unit crest on them. The challenge coins proved to be more efficient as soldiers brought their lucky pieces primarily when going into a bar. Apparently, you have to show your lucky piece in a bar or else you have to buy drinks for all else who have it.
The tradition continues to this day. Nowadays, challenge coins are not only used by military personnel, policemen or firefighters, but also by businesses and organizations. The coins grew so popular that many even collect them.
Businesses and companies worldwide are starting to reward dedication, effort and accomplishments with custom business challenge coins.Custom coins bear a unique unit or team symbol or motto which identifies the group.