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What Are Challenge Coins

Aug 17, 2007
While you will see many different types of coins, the challenge coins are very special coins. These coins are given to military service personnel as a way of building their moral and enforcing the image of the entire unit being behind each other, and supporting the assorted people in the unit. These rare coins have a unique and interesting history behind them. Here we will share a little of this history and understand why these coins have value.

The tradition of challenge coins began during the First World War. During this time many volunteers joined the United States Army Air Service which was the precursor to the US Air Force. One of the service lieutenants ordered small, solid bronze medallions or coins to be made. These coins were then bestowed to the members of his squadron. As one of his squadron mates had never owned anything as valuable as this coin he located the coin in a small leather pouch, which he hung about his neck.

Little did anyone know how significant this little coin would be. As one maybe a coin collector, understand that there maybe imitations to this coin. Unfortunately, being a coin collector this comes with the territory. The point here is to note, this coin doesn't escape the imitation world just because of it's history.

When this serviceman was captured by the Germans, all of his personal property was confiscated. The only item to escape their detection was the challenge coin which was still suspension about his neck. When the Army air force man escaped from the Germans he was afterwards captured by the French who mistook him for a German, as he was wearing one of their uniforms. Just before this service man was about to be executed he showed the challenge coin to a French policeman in the hope that his country of origin would be proven.

Now as the story goes, when he returned back home and recounted his story the coin was called a "challenge coin" and more of these challenge coins were minted. These rare coins were subsequently adopted by all branches of the military. From the legend of this coin a new way of using the mint was adopted. This is where this special coins tradition was born. Now one can see where this special coin could bring with it passion and energy.

In this tradition the challenge coins are used to lift moral and let the diverse personnel see if their unit mates are wearing their challenge coins. When one service personnel member meets another and demands the challenge coin to be produced, the challenged person has to produce the coin. And if you have ever had the opportunity to be apart of this it is quite an experience, to say the least.

The failure to produce the challenge coin means that a round of drinks has to be bought for everyone who is present at the challenge. On the other hand if there is a group of people who have been challenged and they produce their challenge coins the contender has to purchase everyone a round of drinks.

As you see, from the beginnings of the challenge coins to the present day, these coins represent the unwavering tradition of military award and loyalty. And bring value to the special coin. So, if you think you might have one of these coins, get is authenticity checked, hang onto and admire it's history.
About the Author
Bowe is the webmaster, content provider and author of the e-book: "Becoming A Coin Collecting Expert". Go visit his site and: Discover how to become a coin collector.
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