Typically, metal coins are minted as currency. People use them to pay for merchandise and collect them based upon their historic significance. During World War I however, American volunteer fighter pilots invented a game using uniquely minted metal coins, which have now become collector's items among many enthusiasts. But there is an even greater story behind these coins - they saved lives.
According to GlobalSecurity.org, during great wars, challenge coins were used to bring troops together and build trust with one another. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck and presented them to his unit. These rare coins were first made out of bronze, but as the tradition grew, future models were made of pure gold. However, shortly after acquiring the medallions, the lieutenant's aircraft was shot down and he landed behind enemy lines. The story goes, that after being stripped of all of his personal belongings except the coin, he escaped, made it to safety and was able to identify himself to French allies using the gold coin.
Today, armed forces use the gold coins or gold plated coins to initiate a friendly game. A person presents his or her coin to a friend, and if that friend is unable to reciprocate the motion, the friend owes the presenter a drink. While challenge coins have become a source of entertainment for soldiers today, they often were one of the most prized possessions many officers had on duty.
Collectors often want to diversify their portfolios and including rare World War I challenge coins may be the perfect way to add historical value to the collection. These coins are significantly influential in the history of the United States, as they helped build unity in the armed forces who diligently fought for freedom years ago. When it comes to collecting a diverse library of rare coins, historic and monumental pieces are worthwhile investments.