OthersReceiving a Challenge Coin: What It Means

Receiving a Challenge Coin: What It Means

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Coins are catching everyone’s eye! The U.S. Mint made nearly 15 billion coins in 2021 alone, up from 12 billion in 2019. Yet the value of pennies, nickels, and dimes pale in comparison to the value of challenge coins. 

Receiving a challenge coin is a high honor, especially if you’re a service member, veteran, or first responder. But many people who get challenge coins don’t understand just how important these tokens are. 

Before you receive or purchase a challenge coin, you must learn about the history and etiquette of a challenge token. Here’s your quick guide.

A Brief History of the Challenge Coin

Ancient Roman soldiers distributed the first challenge coins as tokens of appreciation to each other. However, challenge coins did not become popular until World War II.

American soldiers would perform “pfennig checks.” One soldier would ask if others could produce a pfennig or small coin, and a soldier who couldn’t was required to buy a round of drinks for everyone. 

As time went on, military divisions started to produce their own coins with their insignias on them. A soldier would receive a coin as part of their initiation into their unit, and they would display it to others to show which unit they were a part of.

Challenge tokens become extremely popular, and other organizations like police departments started making their own. In recent years, the President and other major politicians have made tokens and given them out at rallies and meet-and-greets. You can also purchase SWAT challenge coins and similar tokens online and add them to your coin collection. 

Etiquette for Challenge Coins

Receiving a challenge coin is considered to be a major honor. Once you get a coin, you are a part of the organization that makes it. Some people like to display their coins so everyone can see what group they are a part of, wearing it in a necklace or bracelet.

Some organizations have ceremonies where coins are distributed. Other people give coins to others in handshakes, concealing them in the palms of their hands. Each group has its own customs for coins, so ask someone for help if you’re confused about how to accept or use a police coin. 

Regardless of what military coin you receive, you should keep your coin on you. At any time, a member of your organization can challenge you to produce it. If you don’t have it on you, you must pay for a round of drinks. 

The Essentials of a Challenge Coin

The first challenge coins date back to the Roman Empire. The challenge coin surged in popularity amongst American soldiers in World War II, and tokens are now popular amongst numerous organizations, including the White House. 

Once you get a coin, you must keep it on you, as a challenge can occur when you least expect it. You can keep it in your wallet or pocket, or you can wear it in a piece of jewelry. 

These facts about challenge coins are just the tip of the iceberg. Read more guides on challenge tokens by following our coverage.

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