Challenge and custom coins are coins that were previously used exclusively by the military. They use them to identify the members of their unit, to express goodwill among different military groups and to promote camaraderie and friendship within the military in general. Outside the military these coins are also being used for various purposes including commemoration of significant milestones, as part of an award to outstanding employees and for promotional purposes. These are the most well-known uses of custom and challenge coins.
To help you increase your appreciation for challenge and custom coins we at www.ChallengeCoins4Less.com have come up with some interesting trivia about these coins that you might not know about. Here are some of them.
As most stories go challenge coins got its name from when it was once used to make people pay for your drinks. During the World War II, the Americans stationed in Germany took on a local tradition of checking for pfennig. Pfennig is the lowest coin denomination in Germany and it can hardly ever buy you anything significant. But pfennigs were important to the Americans because if you didn’t have one and a “pfennig check” was conducted then you would have to pay for the drinks of the person who challenged you. A variation of the “pfennig check” can also mean anyone in the group who doesn’t have their pfennig will have to pay for the entire group’s tab or the drinks of those who brought their pfennig. After the World War II, the soldiers would use the unit’s challenge and custom coins instead of pfennig.
During the time of Nazis military people were very wary of one another. You never know which ones are allies and which ones are spies. Intelligence reports are becoming increasingly sophisticated that spies are able to infiltrate the military ranks and are able to gain access to secret tactical meetings. In order to ensure that only authorized members of the military are able to gain access to secret meetings and the like, each member is given a custom coin. This custom coin must be presented at the venue otherwise he will not be allowed in and detained for further questioning.
Ancient Romans were said to have used the earliest challenge coins ever. They would give special minted coins to their most successful soldiers as part of their compensation. These coins are just like regular coins that are used to buy commodities at that time but what made them special is that these coins bear a mark of the legion that the soldier belonged to. So instead of spending the coin the soldier would keep it as a memento.
When Bill Clinton held office at the White House, he had a challenge coin create for the President of the United States. Every President of the United States thereafter has his own challenge coin. Each challenge or custom coins created for the president can be different. It can commemorate his inauguration or his campaigns etc. The most sought after among all of the presidential challenge coins are those that he hands out himself during a secret handshake. The president rarely ever gives out his presidential challenge coin and if you got one, you most likely did something significant for America.
The vice president has his own challenge coin too! Dick Cheney was the first to have his own challenge coin and ever since then other vice presidents had one too.
Outside the US, the British use challenge and custom coins too. During the Second Boer War, the British had to hire mercenaries to fight as soldiers. The status of these soldiers of fortune made them ineligible to earn medals so in order to show appreciation for all their hard work, the commanding officers would secretly take the medals awarded unjustly to the officers and give them to the mercenaries in a secret handshake.