The history of custom military coins is continuously being argued upon. What are the legends on the origin of these coins?
Some say that the idea came from Romans because they used to reward deserving soldiers with coins. Coins have great value during the existence of Roman Empire. They symbolize great wealth and power.
In another story, an American soldier brought a silver Philippine coin during World War II that had an insignia imprinted on one side. That served as a sign that he was a valid contact for their mission to fight against Japanese invaders.
Yet another story dating back to World War II claims that challenge coins were initially used by the personnel of Office of Strategic Service. The coins are said to be local ones called “Bona Fides” which were then used at personal meetings to prove a person’s identity. Each party would examine the coin’s appearance, including the date and imprints, to prevent being tricked by spies.
One of the most accepted ideas say that custom military coins date back to World War I. Americans formed flying squadrons and in one of the squadrons, a wealthy lieutenant compelled each of his members to wear a bronze-covered medallion.
One of the soldiers’ aircraft caught ground fire and got terribly damaged. He had no choice except to make an emergency landing behind enemy lines. Unfortunately, he was taken by German patrol. They took everything he had except for the medallion, which they probably did not notice because he wore it in a small pouch hanged on his neck. The Germans went to a French town and brought him along. He found the chance to change his clothes and escape while there was a commotion going on.
He went through all kinds of difficulties but he was successful in avoiding the German patrols. He stumbled upon a French outpost during that time when they were being bothered by saboteurs who wore civilian clothing. Because he was not wearing any sort of uniform, the French men thought he was one of the saboteurs and decided to execute him. Fortunately, he had the medallion and showed it to them. They decided to delay the execution and confirm his identity. While waiting, they handed him over a bottle of wine.
Back in their squadron, carrying the coins with them became a tradition until a challenge was made to ensure that all the members would carry their medallions with them wherever they are headed to. If a player drops his coin, he is calling for a challenge. Every member should bring out his coin. If someone can’t, that person loses the challenge. On the other hand, if all of the challenged members can produce their coins, the one who initiated the challenge loses.
In commemoration of what happened to the soldier while he was in French custody, all members who lose the challenge are required to buy a round of drinks for everyone else. Those who cannot buy drinks, of course, feel shame.
The challenge went on for years throughout the war. Custom military coins gave the soldiers a sense of unity and camaraderie.
Other custom military coin legends refer to the post-Korean Conflict era. What supports this claim is that the first “documented” coin came from the country.
Nowadays, it does not seem to matter which or any of the said legends is correct. Custom military coins are awarded to those who show bravery, loyalty and reliability. This means that no matter where the idea came from, the significance of recognizing outstanding military performance is still the essence of creating and awarding the coins.
Custom military coins have a distinguished history, dating back at least to World War I. If you’re shopping for military coins, www.challengecoins4less.com is your one-stop, no-hassle solution to all your custom coin needs! No matter which branch of the Armed Services you’re in.