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Challenge & Promotional Coins

The Roman Roots of Challenge Coins

Challenge coins are common in civilian life today, but their roots are firmly planted with the military. While the exact origins are often debated by historians, many experts agree that the tradition of challenge coins can be traced back to Roman Legionnaires. These fighters were often paid mercenaries who were rewarded with pay at the end of a battle. They were paid in coins, and some of those coins were pressed with a unique marking indicating their participation in battle. Many of those men kept a few coins as mementos rather than spending them.

The US Military and The Challenge Coin

In the US Military, challenge coins have their roots the World Wars. Members of flying squadrons carried coins identifying their affiliation. Those coins could be used by men who were dropped or shot down in Europe to identify themselves as American soldiers.

Air Force Challenge Coins

Army Challenge Coins

Marine Challenge Coins

Navy Challenge Coins

One of the earliest formal challenge coins was minted by Colonel “Buffalo Bill” Quinn, 17th Infantry Regiment, who had them made for his men during the Korean War. The coin features a buffalo on one side as a nod to its creator, and the Regiment’s insignia on the other side. A hole was drilled in the top so the men could wear it around their necks.

President William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton was the first US President to stamp a challenge coin and the first Vice President to do so was Richard (Dick) Cheney. President George W Bush presented his challenge coins to wounded members of the military returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and Barack Obama presented his to the service member stationed at the stairs of Air Force One as he boarded the plane.

Challenge Coins In Civilian Life

Today, challenge coins are an important part of military culture but they also are widely used throughout civilian organizations. Everyone from the Boy Scouts of America to the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to Harley Davidson clubs utilize challenge coins.

They are used in fundraising and corporate sponsorships, they are given as gifts top people participating in corporate events, and they are even used by the NBA and the NFL to promote camaraderie among fan bases.

Die Styles

Two-Dimensional (2D)
Graphics are cut in single level, high/low relief. Suitable for type copy and line art graphics. Black & white, camera-ready artwork is required. Black indicates raised metal, and white indicates recessed metal.

Three-Dimensional (3D)

Graphics are cut in fully sculpted, multi-level relief. Recommended to accurately reproduce busts, landscapes and other complex designs. Requires the submission of high-resolution reference photographs or other suitable imagery.

Standard Finishes

Standard pricing includes your choice of classic Gold, Silver or Bronze (Copper) finishes.

Bright Finish
Highly polished bright finishes can be enhanced with additional sandblast treatment, for a sparkling contrast of raised graphics against frosted recessed backgrounds or with elegant 2-tone plating (gold or bronze + silver).

Antique Finish
Antique finishes illustrate the soft patina imparted by time and touch. Oxidized relief highlights the detail of your design. Antique finishes are recommended for designs which incorporate fully sculpted, three-dimensional imagery.

Finishing Touches

For a truly special presentation, enhance your custom design by incorporating any of these popular finishing treatments.

Color Fill
Your custom design can be enhanced by the application of enamel color. Enamel is applied in recessed areas where it can be “trapped” by surrounding raised metal. Standard pricing includes up to 4 colors per side. See price guide for information on additional color options.

Diamond Cut Edges
For added prestige and distinction. Choose from the following styles: FlatWave, Oblique, Petal, Federal.

Diamond cut edges can be applied to one or both sides of your custom design.

Clear Epoxy Dome
Optional Clear Epoxy Dome can be applied to enhance your design by providing additional depth of color. This option is best suited for two-dimensional styles with color fill.

Additional Finishing Touches

Sandblast, Two-tone plating, Additional colors, Series numbering, Dog tags, Custom shapes, Rope edge