Custom Products

Challenge Coins

Be a Part of the Challenge Coin Tradition

At SymbolArts we create high-quality, custom challenge coins to match your exact specifications. Our coins are die-struck in solid brass and come in a variety of finishes, shapes, and sizes. We can change the degree of relief to highlight the fine details even more and can add a range of vivid colors to your design.

Why Are These Coins So Popular?

The tradition started decades ago and they remain extremely popular among military and public safety personnel. They developed as a way to show identification or affiliation with a certain group or organization, but they could also be a simple statement of values. There is a rich history behind these commemorative coins, and you can start creating your own traditions with our high-quality products.

The coin finishes are available in:

  • 24K gold or antique gold
  • Nickel or antique nickel
  • Copper or antique copper
  • Bronze or antique bronze
  • Silver or antique silver
  • Satin gold or satin nickel
  • Black dye

Common challenge coin sizes:

  • 1 ½”
  • 1 ¾”
  • 2”

The History

There are a lot of stories that claim to tell the history of what would become the traditional challenge coin, but the most common has its origins in WW1. In this account, one of the wealthier lieutenants in a newly formed flying squadron commissioned a number of solid bronze medallions that featured the squadron emblem. He presented them to everyone in the unit, and one pilot kept his in a small leather pouch around his neck.

This pilot eventually crashed far behind enemy lines where he was captured by a German patrol. His captors removed all his possessions, including all his personal identification objects. The only thing he had left was the small leather pouch.

When he eventually escaped and made his way to a French outpost, he didn’t have anything to prove his identity except the simple, bronze custom challenge coin. The French soldiers recognized the squadron insignia and decided it was worth taking the time to confirm his identity.

After this experience, it became a tradition in the squadron to always carry their coins. The rule was enforced by the “challenge,” in which any other member could request, at any time, that the coin be presented. If the person challenged couldn’t produce the coin, he would then have to buy a drink for the challenger. If the coin was produced, however, it was the challenger who would buy the drinks.

Rules of the Challenge

A coin check can happen anytime and anywhere. There are no exceptions. A person could be clothed or unclothed, and the rules still apply. You will be permitted one step and an arm’s reach to get a hold of your coin, but if it’s further than that, you’re outta luck.

There are some restrictions on how you carry your coin, too. A coin attached to your belt buckle is now considered a “belt buckle” and not a coin. Coins on key chains only count as “key chains.” However, if you keep your coin on a holder or clasp of some kind and worn around the neck is still validly considered a challenge coin.

Using Your Custom Challenge Coin

Do you need some ideas on how to implement a custom challenge coin within your department or organization?  There are some simple ways to create a program, and we can help you get started.

Also, be sure to check out our custom military coins.


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Did You Know

SymbolArts offers coin displays

Want to proudly display your challenge coins for all to see? You can find coin holders and displays at our online store! We offer various keyframes so you can take your coins on the go as well as elegant wooden cases to keep coins in pristine condition. If you have multiple challenge coins we also provide a selection of well crafted, wood displays which look great on desks or as the centerpiece of shelves and tables.