Those who are aware of what challenge or military coins are will surely always be fascinated at the significance of those items. These used to be utilized solely by the men and women in the military but apparently now, even civilians could have access to it. While these coins really don’t cost that much, some rare pieces appear from time to time. There are people who are saying that collecting these challenge coins as a hobby could be an expensive thing to do. This might be partially correct because many items are really not that costly. The cost aspect becomes heavy when one goes after those that are offered in fundraisers, auctions, and in rare collection sales.
Before an individual attempts to start on the hobby of collecting military coins, it is a good idea to know some basic information about such things. No, there isn’t a need to go and dig deep into history books. The fun and easy way of learning about these challenge coins is to explore on some interesting facts about it. Yes, there is so much more to these coins than what we could ever expect. The following sets of information ought to get an interested individual started:
• Not all military coins look like a standard coin:
Such coins could take the shape of whatever symbol an organization or group wants it to be. At the present time, forms of these coins have been seen in the shape of a dog tag, arrow head, cross, shields, and many others. The important thing about it is that it bears the engraved symbol, logo, or emblem of an organization that it represents. There are many materials that can be used to make such coins. These include copper, gold, silver, bronze, or solid brass. Today’s designers are able to incorporate 3D images onto these coins.
• The origin of these military coins is still unclear:
While there are established stories about where these coins really appeared first, there is no official document that could prove these claims. Historians could tell that early Roman legions were using commemorative coins to celebrate significant achievements. Soldiers during different wars in the modern period (WW1, WW2, Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf) were noted to be using issued challenge coins by their respective units.
• Challenging is a tradition that is done in order to ensure that each member of a military regiment or unit is carrying the coin:
The tradition of challenging a member has spread out across the civilian society. However, the mode of presenting a challenge and responding to it has become varied across organizations. In the military, anyone on a unit can challenge a member. If the member is able to present his coin then the one who presented the challenge must buy him a drink. If the challenged individual cannot produce a coin then he must be the one to buy the challenger a drink.
• Certain things can invalidate a military coin:
Tampering with the original design and form of the coin will lead to its nullified value. As an example, drilling holes in it so that it can be worn on a belt or as a necklace makes the coin useless. For this matter, such coins are carried normally in pouches that could easily be accessed when challenges are presented.
• Military coins are commonly not presented during a formal ceremony:
However, there are exceptions to this based from each organization’s rules or policies. The practice of awarding these through a “secret handshake” originated in the military and is still being done today in organizations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, during his visit to US troops in 2011 shook hands with some military personnel stationed in Afghanistan. Those who were there confirmed that these handshakes were indeed loaded with rare challenge coins from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
• Challenge coins might or might not have high value:
In fact, people hold on to these because of sentimental value. Some coins that are made of real gold or silver may be worth a couple of dollars. Among collectors, very rare ones could fetch high amounts during auctions and charity events. Of course, these don’t have the same value as currencies that are used in commerce these days.
There are still many interesting facts worth knowing about these military or challenge coins. Collectors who want to get started on a hobby should make sure that they know everything about it. Information sources are all over the web now.