You might not have heard of military coins but you probably have seen them, at least in the movies—the ones that are pinned to a soldier’s badge or uniform. Though these coins look like regular currency coins at first glance, they actually bear a design unique to the characteristics of a certain military unit. Symbols and mottos of the union are engraved on either zinc alloy or bronze plates. Most of these coins are circular or square; however, pentagon-shaped, shield-like, and dog tag-like ones are increasingly becoming popular.
The Origin of the Coin
Military coins, which are also called challenge coins, can be traced way back to World War I. During this time, soldiers, both men and women, were given military coins as a sign of camaraderie and unity. The bearer of the coin had to live up to the honor, having to prove that he is worth it and the accolade entrusted upon him by the state. The avenues through which a man could prove his credibility to have the coin were to fight during a war in service to his nation, get involved in patriotic campaigns, or offer any special service to his community. These coins are also given as a medal of service to the soldiers when they retire, a good remembrance to what they have done for the country.
Examples of Existing Coins
The US government have a specific coin designed for each military service; examples of which are the Marine Corps coins, the Navy coins, and the Vietnam challenge coins. These coins are a source of pride to the soldiers who have them. Sometimes, the coins also show the soldiers’ ranks during their service; and the soldiers have every right to put these coins in their badge and display them. This is the reason why any country would willingly spend a lot to mint and distribute this type of coin to its soldiers.
The Evolution of its Design
The design of these coins has evolved with time. Compared to the coins in the past that come with two colors at best, the coins now can have more varying colors, paving the way to more options in design. This change in the physical appearance of these coins is a result of the improvement in technology in both coin minting and design. In the past, most military coins were also not as good as they had faint emblems. Their prints could also not be easily read. Today the coins have more prominent insignia and crispier letter edgings.
Another improvement that has been made possible recently is that these coins are no longer limited to the people who are and have been a member of a military unit. Anyone can now have these coins custom-made so that they’ll resemble the ones distributed in camps. Personal specifications, such as adding one’s name, can also be requested to suit one’s taste and preferences. Additionally, ordering in bulk is also no longer required; in fact, one can order just one custom-made coin without blowing away one’s budget. This is because manufacturers now have 3D printing tools, which allows coin makers to achieve even the most complicated designs while cutting the production cost more than in half.
Other Uses of Military Coins
The use of challenge coins has evolved over the years. The government and some private societies started using it to show alliance. They are used as presents to highly valued guests in the country or in an organization. The American presidents have been trading coins with dignitaries, especially to the heads of states or other countries who visit the White House.
Military coins, which are also called challenge coins, can be traced way back to World War I