Traditionally, military coins were used for identification purposes. Dating back to World War I, American soldiers used coins to identify themselves from which military troop unit they belonged. It was also during this time that the coin challenge started among military members.
The game was popularly known as coin check, wherein a military coins owner can challenge any fellow coin holder. If the challenged owner could not present his coin, he needs to buy a drink for the challenger. However, if the challenged owner is able to produce a coin, the challenger buys him a drink. It was a challenge that only military members understood during that time.
During the Vietnam War, military personnel had a similar challenge as mentioned above. They made use of ammunition to challenge other soldiers for a chance of free drinks. However, seeing that ammunition could cause accidents, military coins were used instead.
Sometime between World War I and World War II, coins were also used as a means to pass. Before military members and allies could enter scheduled meetings, they were asked to present specific coins. Each meeting would require a different coin that only legitimate members had access to. This rule was implemented to prevent spies from infiltrating military camps and meetings.
As the years passed, coin designs varied according to military ranks. Members and officers of the military were given coins throughout their service whenever they achieved a milestone. The military men also used coins to acknowledge heroic actions by their troops.
Soldiers started to have a collection of coins while serving the military. It became a source of good memories, camaraderie and stories to tell other people. Each coin had a different meaning but all coins were valued equally.
In recent years, the idea behind military coins or commonly known as challenge coins has been implemented even in non-military groups. Coins were used as a form of memorabilia. It represented the number of years a company or group has existed. It also symbolized exclusivity among organizations.
Coin designs became more complicated. Different materials can now be used to create a coin. Depending on the organization’s budget, coins can be made according to their preference. It can be made out of gold and embellished with genuine stones like diamonds and emerald. The design and size became customizable too.
Popular coin designs today include the following: 3D (3 dimensional), multi-colored, color changing and a photograph can be printed onto it too. Coin manufacturers have adapted to the needs and demands of their customers.
Organizations also use challenge coins as a token of gratitude. Instead of using traditional certificates and plaques, limited edition coins were used to show appreciation. These were presented to their officers, board of directors and benefactors.
Challenge coins were also used for fund-raising events. Organizers used coins as incentives to raise the amount they needed. For example:
• Bronze coins were awarded to donors who gave $50-$99
• Silver coins were given to donors who gave $100-$300
• Gold plated coins were presented to donors who gave $500 and above
Coins were used to motivate people to donate higher amounts. In return, organizers are able to raise the amount they need in shorter period of time. At times, they exceed their targeted amount, which is favorable for the organization.
Another innovative use for challenge coins these days is to use it as wedding souvenirs. Couples engrave or print their photo on the coin and give it as souvenirs to wedding guests. They can customize the coin according to their preference. It can include their favorite quote or symbol.
The use of military coins has changed over the years. But the meaning and value it holds has not been lost. Instead, people found ways to keep it alive and useful. They’ve incorporated coins for modern use and it fits perfectly. Coins hold memories and have lots of stories to tell. It’s considered as a collector’s item that can be passed on from one generation to the other.