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  • Emily Beresford

The Origin and Evolution of Challenge Coins

Although challenge coins have a long history, some people still have no clue what they are or the purpose they serve. These custom coins or medallions feature inscriptions that represent an organization’s emblem or insignia. Military challenge coins and police challenge coins are especially important for promoting and inspiring recognition, high achievements and teamwork.


Typically, people receive custom challenge coins for one or more of four reasons. First, to show they’re a member of a specific organization. Second, to signify unity. Third, to bolster morale. Fourth, to honor the recipient’s actions.


The Origin of Challenge Coins

As far as more recent history, challenge coins appeared during World War I. According to some historians, a high-ranking military officer had them made out of brass for the men in his unit. However, these weren’t just any men. The recipients had attended Ivy League colleges but left to serve in the war. This was the leader’s way of showing his appreciation.


However, many scholars claim that challenge coins date back to the Roman Empire era. In a similar fashion, soldiers received the coins as recognition for all their accomplishments.


Still, other historians state that the first coins appeared during the French wars, which primarily focused on religion. When the reign of King Louis XIV was overturned in 1685, French protestants suffered greatly. Things became so bad that they had to practice their religion in private. For them to be allowed to participate in services, they gave their coins to the church. That proved their loyalty and granted them access.


While several other stories circulate about the origin of challenge coins, they all focus on acknowledging heroes’ actions.


The Evolution of Custom Challenge Coins

During the late 1990s, U.S. presidents issued challenge coins to both military personnel and foreign leaders. Some presidents even received them from the original recipients. For instance, one former president received several coins from different members of the U.S. military. Another example is a Marine who served in combat patrol, who gave his challenge coin to yet a different former president.


Also, while in office, another former president moved away from putting the presidential seal on the coins. Rather, the coin featured a very popular slogan he often used.

Initially, only military personnel received coins, not just in the U.S. but in other countries as well. Today, non-military people also receive challenge coins as an award for superior performance of service or duty.


For instance, they’re given to individuals associated with the Eagle Scouts and even the World Series of Poker. Police officers and firefighters receive them in honor of their outstanding performances. Also, family members of those who lost their lives protecting others receive challenge coins too.


The “challenge” part of the coin originated from several different events. The one that most people know of is the “Bull Dog” coin. Created in 1991, it acknowledged B-52 tail gunners enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.


The Bottom Line

Whether to prove membership or to honor someone for their heroic act, challenge coins are here to stay. After all, they serve a distinct and valuable purpose.


If you’re interested in purchasing quality, affordable custom challenge coins, please contact us at RespondersPro. We take immense pride in our customized designs and superior quality for each and every custom coin original creation.


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RespondersPro has many years of expertise and know-how backing us. We have also been extremely privileged to work with outstanding First Responders in all branches of Police and Law Enforcement, City Departments and Divisions, Universities and Colleges, Schools and Sports Teams, EMT’s and Paramedics, Corporations and Fundraising organizations in every state in the United States, throughout Canada, as well as Globally. Custom Made Challenge Coins are suited perfectly to recognition, recruitment, team building and commemorative events and milestone.


Our RespondersPro’s team proudly designs and creates custom challenge coins, custom medallions & medals, custom lapel pins, belt buckles for:


· Police & Law Enforcement Departments

· Sheriff Departments

· Firefighter & Fire-Rescue Fire Stations

· Medical, Hospitals & EMS Services

· Armed Forces, Coast Guard & All Military

· Universities & Colleges, Schools

· Corporate Agencies

· Fundraising Organizations

· Sports Teams & Sport Associations


Our specialist team is ready to work with you to create a lasting, affordable custom challenge coin design that shine with beauty, honor and inspiration that lasts a lifetime. We provide free quotes and assistance for every client. Also please read about the Special Offer Details, Your Chief will receive this gorgeous Wooden Presentation Challenge Coin Display Box with its custom engraved plate manufactured in Maple with warm and classic antique walnut finish.


We look forward to designing and producing your outstanding achievements when you buy Custom Challenge Coins and Custom Patches with Responders Pro.