Challenge coins are now more popular than ever. The tradition of custom coins has expanded to include organizations, law enforcement, schools, teams, in addition to all branches of the military.
Challenge Coins are a physical symbol of appreciation and recognition of a job well done or exemplary service. Coins are no longer exclusively used by the military. They are now very popular with schools and universities, sports and academic teams, businesses, and organizations in addition to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. The highly personalized nature of custom Challenge Coins makes them the ideal for everything from a unit's achievement medal to a corporate marketing tool. They encourage teamwork and promote camaraderie as well.
Since the early 1930s, custom Challenge Coins have been used to promote friendships, strengthen bonds, and recognize success. For a nearly a century, military personnel have created personalized Challenge Coins and used them to raise awareness and funds, educate the public about pressing issues, and honor exceptional individuals within a unit in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
The process of making custom challenge coins can be overwhelming. We strive to make it simple (and even enjoyable) though. All we need is an idea and our team of professional designers can take it from there and make a custom coin design "proof" (digital rendering) for you at no cost. If you have any logos or images that you want incorporated or used as a source of inspiration those always help too. Once we have the first proof done, we'll revise it an unlimited number of times at no charge until it's exactly what you envisioned (or even better than that).The core of any custom challenge coin design is the idea behind it or the "why?". What is the reason for making the custom coin in the first place?
The reason for designing the coin will determine what needs to be incorporated and dictate the complexity of the design. Who the coins are being designed for will also help as we can advise what traditional sizes and even what platings and add-ons are most popular based on industry and application.
Custom challenge coins come in many shapes and size. They can be custom graduation coins for completing officer candidate school, a deployment coin issued to a whole unit, a challenge coin that recognizes outstanding performance in the workplace, a commanding officer's coin reserved for exemplary service, or even a custom coin designed to commemorate a life milestone like a marriage or christening.
If you're not sure where to start, check out our gallery to see some coins we've made in the past and get inspired! Just reference the ones you like best and we'll incorporate those ideas into your own individualized custom challenge coin design.
Our goal is to deliver all custom coin orders on time or early, so make sure to let us know as early as possible when you need the coins, especially if you have an event.
We have a great team of professional designers and coin experts standing by ready to help you. If you have any questions, or just want some friendly guidance, don't hesitate to reach out in whatever form of communication you prefer. We're happy to talk on the phone, email, text, or chat with you so that we can make commissioning a custom challenge coin as easy and enjoyable as possible!
Custom round challenge coins still make up the majority of challenge coin orders. They're tried and true and can still feature a lot of fine detail, especially when an upgraded edge or 3D mold is added to the design. They're also the most pleasant shape to carry daily in a pocket.
Custom challenge coins can be made in almost any shape these days. We can make simple octagons or ellipses but also elaborate shapes like dragons, vehicles, buildings, helmets, and more. As long as there are no fully-contained interior cut-outs, there's usually no extra charge for a custom shaped coin either!
There are multiple potential origins of the challenge coin tradition.
Some say that the tradition started in ancient Rome where soldiers were give additional coins for bravery and other achievements. Some of these were stamped with different designs so that they'd have value in addition to the monetary metallurgical value and the holder would be recognized by others who saw these coins.
The most common and popular origin story is the possibly apocryphal tale of a young well-to-do lieutenant serving in the United States Army Air Service during World War 1. Upon receiving his commission, he issued his entire unit custom bronze medallions emblazoned with the squadron's emblem. Many of the pilots wore the coins in small leather pouches around their necks in a show of camaraderie.
One such pilot was shot down behind enemy lines in Germany and was quickly captured. All of his belongings and means of identification were taken from him, including his uniform. The only thing he had left was the small leather pouch around his neck. The Germans dressed their prisoner in civilian clothes so that they could move him around without him being recognized.
During the confusion of a nighttime bombardment, the downed pilot escaped and made it to a French encampment. His excitement at being reunited with allied forces was quickly tempered though. His French allies thought he might be a spy and a saboteur, since he was wearing civilian clothes and had no identification. They decided to execute him but right before they did, he produced his squadron medallion. Luckily, one of the French allies recognized the squadron insignia. The pilot's life was spared and he was eventually reunited with his squadron.
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