John Regitko submitted these observations on the use of challenge coins within the Military Payment Certificate (MPC) collecting community. -Editor With reference to the column in the last E-Sylum about Challenge Coins, here is a different way of using (actually, NOT using) them:
Two years ago, I attended my first MPCFest in Port Clinton, Ohio. After over 50 years of travelling to coin shows (including ANA and CNA Conventions), it became my all-time favourite show (it is sometimes hard to explain why, but if you come to the next one, you can find out for yourself).
They don’t tell you anything, but at one of the organized dinners, everyone held up their MPC Challenge Coin…except me. I felt obligated/shamed into/volunteered to buy the refreshments (that’s beer to those of you who are not in the habit of writing press releases for coin shows where no mention of alcohol is ever mentioned) at the bowling that followed the dinner.
Last year, I again attended. Again, everybody pulled out their MPC Challenge Coin…except me. I bought the beer, knowing fully well that this time I had my Challenge Coin tucked away safely in a 2x2 holder in my wallet.
When you read that I again “forgot” my MPC Challenge Coin and had to buy the refreshments at the April 16 to 19 MPCFest, just remember that sometimes we care more about a numismatic object not getting scratched and the fun and fellowship that buying a round brings!
The "challenge" in the name "challenge coin" refers to just such practices - members of the group are challenged to produce their coin to prove their loyalty. The consequence for failing to produce one's coin is often the requirement to purchase refreshments.
Centuries ago forerunners of today's challenge coins were used to verify membership in secret societies; where such societies were outlawed the penalty for failing to prove one's membership could be as harsh as death, since a nonmember could be a snitch. So in comparison, buying a round of drinks, especially for one's friends as John notes, isn't so bad.
The police organizations handing out "challenge coins" to citizens are using them more like medals to recognize good behavior. -Editor
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