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Original Militaria Challenge Coins (2001Present): A Buyer's Guide

Often coveted by military personnel, the challenge coin is an enduring symbol of participation and inclusion. These ornate medallions typically signify membership in an elite military organization. They're often handed out in special circumstances by an officer or commander; examples of many of these coins can be found on eBay.

What are some examples of military challenge coins?

Military challenge coins are handed out to members of different armed forces units in the United States. There are myriad versions of challenge coins, both common and rare, for each branch of military service. Some of the challenge coins you can find include the following examples:

  • Army: 100 Years 82nd Airborne Coin: This challenge coin celebrates the centennial anniversary of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, and elite airborne division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The coin has wings and "AA" on one side. The other side has a red band and text encircling the center, which commemorates all the theaters of war.
  • Navy: Submariners Silent Service Coin: One side of this coin displays an italicized "Silent Service" logo. The other sports stylized engravings of submarines with sea creatures underneath the words "Submarine Warfare."
  • Marine Corps: Semper Fi: Serving as a testament to the die-hard loyalty of the Marines, this challenge coin has a hardcore design. One side of the coin features a red-winged skull and displays the motto of the USMC, "Semper Fi." Below, the words "Death Before Dishonor" are displayed. The other side has the eagle-and-globe logo in silver, along with the words, "The Few, The Proud."
  • Air Force: Missile Defense: A black and silver coin, this challenge coin represents the brave servicemembers manning American nuclear silos. As displayed on one side, this is a "Missileman Badge." In the center of both sides is a design of an American nuclear missile wielded by the Air Force. The types listed include: Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, Peacekeeper, Matador, Mace, and GLCM.
What nations make challenge coins?

Most challenge coins you can find on eBay are a type of recognition for the U.S. Military and its personnel. You may also be able to find historical challenge coins, such as those from France or Italy. European soldiers in the Renaissance would be offered challenge coins as a reward for performing special tasks for royalty or their titled employers. Roman challenge coins may also be found, as this is where challenge coins originated.

What is the purpose of challenge coins?

Challenge coins can have significant historical value, particularly for scholars of military history. They can be used to prove membership in a military organization, as a symbol of appreciation for service, or as a sort of informal "badge of office" for American presidents and vice presidents.

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