There have been several versions of The Masonic Challenge Coin Story going around. But I wanted to share this one with you. The Masonic Challenge Coin Story and Custom Masonic Challenge Coins date back in history since time in memorial. The use of promotional products in America can be traced back to 1824 when Andrew Jackson was running for President. There are still a few collectors with Campaign Coins supporting this evidence.This story of how the challenge coin came to be has been passed down through the ages as it relates to a World War I story that goes something like this.
During WWI some American volunteers joined a newly formed squadron of pilots. And a wealthy lieutenant who was also believed to be a brother Mason decided to designed a special coin after his newly formed squadron and had them cast as a solid bronze medallion with the squadron logo and some other mysterious symbols. He gave one to each member of his squadron. The Lt. carried his medallion around his neck in a small leather sack.Shortly after distributing the medallions, the lieutenants aircraft was shot down behind enemy lines and he was captured by a squad of German soldiers.
The German soldiers took everything from the lieutenant except for the medallion which he managed to conceal under his tong.
Shortly after being transported to a French village that had been set up as a make shift POW camp near the front lines, the lieutenant escaped by downing civilian clothes he was able to procure and walked out of the village. He didn’t have his military identification on him because it had all been confiscated by the German soldiers.Finally the Lt. was able to reach the front lines after crossing no-man’s land and stumbled into a French outpost exhausted and hungry.
The French soldiers in that area were suspicious because of all the German spies who sometimes wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the Lt’s American accent, the French officers thought he was a saboteur and was about to kill him.
The American remembered his bronze medallion and just before they were about to shoot him he showed the medallion to his would-be executioners. The French immediately recognized the symbols on the medallion, and gave the Lt. enough time to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him, they gave him a bottle of red wine. Eventually the Lt made it back to his squadron, where it became a tradition to ensure all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. After the war many soldiers became Masons and decided to adopt the challenge coin tradition and started designing coins with Masonic emblems.
It has been said that if you receive a challenge coin you bust carry it in your pocket at all times. Because if someone challenges you to show your coin and you do not have yours with you, you have to buy the next round of drinks for the group.
The moral of the story is to always have your coin handy just in case.