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Putting an Old Twist on Challenge Coins.

Challenge coins are full of history. Could they be in your future?

Challenge coins have a long history. Their origins are linked to the first World War, they continue to be used to this day. Traditionally, challenge coins are made of metal and sometimes include enamel or other forms of paint in their designs. PopCultPins challenge coins are made from all natural wood, are laser engraved and cut. Reminiscent of old wooden nickels, PopCultPins challenge coins make a great personal gift or corporate morale booster.

The fine folks at CoinDisplays has an awesome write up about the possible origins of challenge coins. The short of it is that it all began with World War I and a pilot who wanted to present his squadron with a gift. The gift ended up saving one of the pilot’s life. After being shot down, behind enemy lines, the pilot was able to make it to ally’s but unable to communicate, the coin was the only thing to prove his allegiance. Since then, challenge coins have been presented during both times of war and times of peace.

The majority of coins are made of metal. From the original brass striking to more contemporary counterparts made of brass or even enamel. Metal is still the favorite for it’s long life expectancy and durability. The enamel brings amazing and endless color possibilities to challenge coins. A new contender though, could be an old classic.

Everyone, or at least most people have heard of a wooden nickel, but not many have ever seen one. However, wooden coins were once the norm across the country. Fairs and events used them as tokens. Some towns, during times of war and metal shortages, even allowed them to be used as actual currency. These ranged anything from a simple round wooden disc to detailed engraved pieces of exotic woods. Today, I’m bringing the wooden coin to the next level.

Using computers to help aid in the design process allows for a precision never before seen in wooden coins of any sort. Combined with the accuracy and power of a laser and wooden challenge coins are going to be the next big thing. The Wooden coins offer a tactile sense that we don’t get to experience quite often. They have a certain warmth imbibed by the natural  wood that cannot be replicated. Lasering of the wood activates other sensory stimuli. The sharp contrast between burnt and unburnt wood is quite visually appealing. Then there’s the smell, it brings up memories of campfires as a kid, or of bonfires, marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers.

About the Semper Gumby coins

When approached by a U.S. State Department employee with the idea of a wooden challenge coin, I was intrigued with the idea. I was given a low resolution of the “Semper Gumby” side of the coin. They had been using the design for a while. I was then also given a JPEG image of their seal that would be used for the back of the coin. Using both files I recreated them as pieces of vector art including the creation a braided rope pattern for the edge of the coins. Once the proof was signed off on, I ordered custom cut 3/16ths inch walnut as per my clients request. It’s slightly larger than the 1/8in normally used for pins. The wood lasered great and after a quick cleaning, the coins were ready to be packaged. Once delivered, the client was very happy and has continued to receive compliments to this day.

Challenge coins are a great gift for weddings (think groomsmen/bridesmaid gifts), graduations, and really, just about any celebratory occasion. Order your own custom designed challenge coin today!


:UPDATE: I was informed by my client that he had the chance to give a former POTUS one of these challenge coins when he got a chance to meet him! How cool is that?!

2 thoughts on “Putting an Old Twist on Challenge Coins.

  1. What type of laser do you use? Like brand/size etc? Would like to do this on my own

  2. Brian,

    Thanks for asking. I use a Glowforge Pro. Here’s a link with more information on it. PLUS, by using my link you can get up to $500 off a Glowforge of your own! Check it out…

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