Challenge coins have been called a number of different things over the years, such as commander coins and unit coins. However, the importance of these coins is not the name, but what each one represents. These coins symbolize memories, hard work and even friendships. Every unit in law enforcement will have their own challenge coin and their own memories and history associated with it. The tradition is thought to have begun with the United States Army Air Force. Because funds were extremely limited during World War 1, the army's aircraft was manned by everyday men as opposed to trained professionals. One Lieutenant was so touched by the men's commitment; he commissioned the creation of small bronze medallions, which he then presented to each man who served in his unit. The idea was to say thank you and to give these men something to keep as a memory of their service together.
Challenge coins are most commonly bronze-plated, although some units will have silver and gold-plated coins. The insignia and motto of each particular unit is printed on the center of the coin. The sentiment associated with these coins is still very important today and many police units issue them to their rookie officers as a symbol of acceptance. Other coins may be given to officers to boost morale. No matter what the reason is for the coin's presentation, there is no denying that every officer who carries a coin does so with pride.
As well as being popular among law enforcement officers and military personnel, challenge coins are fast becoming one of America's most collectible items. Auction houses, online websites and private individuals all trade in the coins, looking for valuable, rare or just plain unusual pieces. However, when looking for police challenge coins for sale individuals should proceed with caution if they want to be sure they are buying an original article. Before purchasing anything, people should have an idea of insignias and dates of issue. World War 1 coins are far more valuable than specimens that are more modern but old does not always mean valuable. For example, while some police units issue coins to every officer to represent an event or memory, others only issue them to individuals who have shown real commitment to their jobs. That is, people who have gone beyond the call of duty. Obviously, because only small amounts of these are given out, they are considered rare and therefore are more valuable.
Another important thing to remember when looking for police challenge coins for sale is damage. When a coin is issued, there are several rules that come along with ownership. The main rule being the coin should be not be damaged or defaced, this will result in the coin no longer being considered as an official challenge coin. Unfortunately, many owners of the coins did not realize that-- in an effort to wear their coin with pride-- drilling a small hole in the coin to add it to a chain or key fob would render it obsolete. Therefore, it is important individuals always check coins for damage.