The History of Custom-Made Challenge Coins That Never Got Telled

The tradition of challenge coins began with the military. One theory is that a wealthy air force lieutenant gave bronze medallions to his squadron. He would then ask that the men carry them in a leather pouch around their necks.

This allowed the coin to be used as proof of membership when a member was challenged for drinks at a bar. The practice later spread to other military branches and then to law enforcement.


There are many traditions and stories about challenge coins, but one of the most popular dates back to World War I. The tale goes that a wealthy lieutenant had bronze medallions made for his elite squadron and presented them to each member before they left on missions over Europe. When one of the pilots was shot down behind enemy lines, he lost all his belongings except for a small leather pouch around his neck containing his squadron coin. This allowed him to escape to French captors who recognized the coin and spared his life.

Challenge coins are a way to connect groups and create a sense of community and pride. They are often associated with military or police units, but they can be found in organizations and clubs across the globe. They also make an excellent gift for special occasions. Many people have a drawer full of knick-knacks given to them by past companies, but a well-crafted custom challenge coin will be cherished and displayed for years. It can even start conversations that lead to business opportunities.


Many service members carry a challenge coin to symbolize pride and affiliation with their unit. These coins are more than just a flat piece of metal with an image and some text; they tell a story about where the owner has been and who they’ve met.

It isn’t easy to pinpoint precisely when the challenge coin tradition began. However, one famous story dates back to World War I. A wealthy lieutenant in the Army Air Service ordered bronze medallions made for his unit. He presented them to the pilots before they went out on a mission. When one of the pilots was shot down behind enemy lines and captured by the Germans, they took all his personal belongings except for a pouch that contained the medallion. The soldiers recognized the insignia and returned the soldier to his unit safely.

Many other military units have adopted the practice, and it even made its way into civilian groups like police departments and firefighter organizations. People who don’t serve in the military also carry these coins to show their affiliation and as a form of ID.


Custom made challenge coins can be made using multiple printing and plating techniques, depending on the design. Most are made of thick, durable metals such as brass and bronze. They can be engraved with intricate designs and have different color finishes. They can also be made using pad printing, transferring ink from a silicone pad to the coin’s surface. Laser engraving is another option, which can be used to etch fine details that may not move during the stamping process.

One of the most famous challenge coin stories comes from WWI. A wealthy officer minted bronze medallions for his squadron and had them stamped with their unit insignia. He was captured on a mission and was about to be executed when the French soldiers recognized his unit insignia on the coin.

Today, the military and law enforcement use challenge coins to inspire a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie among their members. They’re also used in business to honor employees and associates who have achieved a particular milestone. They’re a great way to show that you value your people and their achievements.


How the challenge coin tradition began is unclear, but many legends exist. One famous story is that a lieutenant in the Army Air Service had special bronze medallions struck for his squadron during World War I. He then presented them to his men to boost morale and honor their service and bravery.

Today, the challenge coin symbolizes membership in an elite military unit. Members proudly wear These coins and can even grant them privileges such as reserved seating at special events or first pick from rations. They are also carried by police officers, firefighters, and members of clubs and organizations, both large and small.

Creating custom challenge coins involves a series of steps, including design, mold creation, striking, and plating. These coins are usually circular and have a hole in the center to attach a chain. They can also have a 3D image, edge text, and more. The company that makes your challenge coin will send you proof to review and approve. Once approved, they will begin production and ship your finished product in 14 to 17 days.


In a world where ID cards are commonplace, there’s nothing quite like a pocket-sized piece of bragging rights to show your membership in an exclusive club. Whether copper, bronze, or nickel, these metal tokens often feature intricate designs and symbols to denote the unit/office/etc they represent.

It’s unclear exactly when and where the challenge coin tradition started, but it likely goes back farther than you think. It’s believed that one of the first occurred during WWI when German soldiers shot down and captured a pilot. When asked for his identification, he pulled out his challenge coin, which he used to prove that he was an American ally.

Today, challenge coins are still a proud military custom that celebrates excellence and camaraderie. They’re also a great way to commemorate special events and can be customized with details, colors, and borders. GS-JJ is a leader in the industry, manufacturing promotional gifts for various clients, including fashion brands, museums, and tech titans. They offer a no-minimum order service and deliver products quickly and on time.

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