Some people doubt the authenticity of the challenge coin’s traditions, origins, and purposes. Quite frankly, that’s okay. Knowing about its exact and properly documented significance in history would have been nice, but history is being made all the time, and if the traditions of military challenge coins didn’t exist as far back as fifty or a hundred years ago, it wouldn’t matter very much because the fact remains: the traditions exists NOW.
They say numbers don’t lie and, though photo editing software have tried their hardest, neither do pictures. If multiple photographs that captured “secret handshakes” involving a challenge coin, a deserving individual, and the President of the country are to be believed, then the significance of these special coins (never mind the impact on history) could no longer be denied. In the contemporary context, giving challenge coins as recognition for deserving individuals is well-grounded in reality. It helps that this ritual (which is engaged in not only by the President, the Vice President, the various branches of the military, etc.) is always done in plain sight and could almost be considered as an open secret. It would take a serious cynic to not believe its authenticity.
One theory states that the military challenge coin’s allure stemmed from its rarity back in the days. Before the 1980s, for instance, very few in the Air Force (where it’s generally thought to have originated) had them. High ranking officials had been sparing in giving them away, so receiving one had truly been sought after by the units. It purportedly boosted morale, teamwork, loyalty, and revealing the challenge coins for others to see was a great source of pride. Now, even though it’s true that the coins are not so rare anymore, the old “allure” is largely unchanged because the rarity has successfully traded itself for tradition.
In fact, this custom of commemorating and individual’s service, commitment, and dedication was so powerful in later years that non-military and non-government entities have recently caught on. Presidents and Generals don’t hold monopoly over the coin minting industries after all, nor are they the only ones who are bound by honor to recognize the people who have served, protected, and assisted them.
Challenge coins are increasingly becoming more popular in corporate or business settings. Like the discerning Chiefs in the military, Bosses from far and wide don’t just acknowledge deserving subordinates with a smile and a nod anymore—they put out a hand in the manner of the “secret handshake” and the employee who had garnered special recognition would receive a surprise token in their palm. Some even forgo the whole secrecy and announce the recognition to all, reasoning correctly that everyone would know about it before lunch anyway.
Managers, Team Leaders, Supervisors… more and more of them are recognizing the value of tokens like the relatively inexpensive challenge coins in boosting the workers’ drive, unity, and overall productivity. People like being made to feel valued, and they especially like being part of something unique and worthy to be proud of.
To add more importance to the coin, one can seek to increase its actual value by having them plated or else made entirely form gold or silver. These could then be presented as smaller steps or levels that employees could strive towards in between the odd pay raise or promotion. This method was modeled from the Olympic Games, where athletes win medals that have actual or corresponding monetary value. Owning a miniature “Olympic medal” could make anyone so proud and flattered that they’d much rather keep it for display rather than sell it. As with military challenge coins, contemporary coins could trump all because of their special significance.
Challenge coins have a distinguished history, dating back at least to World War I. If you’re shopping for military coins, Challenge Coins 4 Less is your one-stop, no-hassle solution to all your custom coin needs!