The realm of challenge coins is shrouded in mystery and contested history among military scholars. However, amidst the ambiguity lies one unmistakable aspect: The Coin Check.
The Cryptic History of Challenge Coins
The history of challenge coins remains a matter of intense debate among military scholars. Though the exact origins are obscured by the sands of time, one thing stands clear—the coin check has become an integral part of the challenge coin legacy. Nevertheless, these coins have gained popularity among military personnel and individuals associated with serving a sitting president.
One captivating tale traces the challenge coin back to World War I. An enthusiastic soldier minted coins for his regiment as a keepsake following the war. During a perilous episode, a captured comrade, carrying the regiment's coin, used it to prove his identity, ultimately saving his life. While the truth of this story remains elusive, it remains one of the most widely accepted accounts of the coin's origin.
Unveiling the Coin Check
The concept of the coin check also boasts diverse origins, each with its claim to authenticity.
One account leads us to post-World War II Germany, where foreign soldiers aiding in the country's reconstruction engaged in a “pfennig check”, a precursor to the coin check. (A pfennig is a former German penny, which was the official currency from the 9th century until the introduction of the euro in 2002.) The absence of a pfennig prompted the individual to buy the next round of drinks. Over time, this evolved into requesting challenge or regiment coins, with those without them having to foot the bill for the next round.
Vietnam and its veterans also harbor vague connections to the challenge coin check, where some initiated it to maintain exclusivity in certain bars for veterans or soldiers.
Where to Coin Check your Comrades?
The coin check can be initiated anywhere, but it most commonly unfolds in bars and “E” Clubs. Fraternities and sororities with coin traditions can even employ the coin check to randomly assign fewer desirable chores for the day or evening.