The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 53, December 24, 2017, Article 20


While an official Trump inaugural medal has yet to be issued, the U.S. President has been actively involved in the design of his challenge coin. This article from the Washington Post has the details. -Editor

Trump challenge coin For two decades, the commander in chief has doled out distinguished-looking coins as personal mementos. Now, the presidential “challenge coin” has undergone a Trumpian transformation.

The presidential seal has been replaced by an eagle bearing President Trump’s signature. The eagle’s head faces right, not left, as on the seal. The 13 arrows representing the original states have disappeared. And the national motto, “E pluribus unum” — a Latin phrase that means “Out of many, one” — is gone.

Instead, both sides of the coin feature Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

The changes don’t stop there. In addition to his signature, Trump’s name appears three times on the coin, which is thicker than those made for past presidents. And forget the traditional subdued silver and copper: Trump’s coin, a White House aide marveled, is “very gold.”

The aide said the president, whose real estate properties are known for their gilded displays of wealth and status, was personally involved in redesigning the coin. Trump, who also had a hand in creating his famous red campaign hat, “wanted to weigh in on it,” the aide said. “It’s beautifully made.”

“They’re going to be used in ways they haven’t been in the past,” said the second White House aide, adding that they may be distributed at campaign rallies and to donors. Aides were not authorized to comment on the record and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

White House officials declined to say how much the coins cost or who designed them.

Presidential challenge coins

President Trump's challenge coin, bottom, along with those of, from left, Vice President Pence, former vice president Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama

Some ethics experts questioned the unprecedented decision to include a campaign slogan on the coins, which are often distributed to members of the military.

“For the commander in chief to give a political token with a campaign slogan on it to military officers would violate the important principle of separating the military from politics, as well as diminishing the tradition of the coin,” said Trevor Potter, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

Challenge coins got their start as military baubles bearing division insignia and presented by officers to troops for exemplary service. The moniker came from a tradition in which service members challenged one another to produce their coins. Those who did not have one had to buy a round of drinks.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have pressed the discs, slightly larger than a silver dollar, into the palms of officers and troops. Bush was said to place them on graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

The coins are hotly sought by collectors. Online, the official Obama challenge coin was being sold Friday for as much as $999.

Collectors often display the coins in a glass case or laid flat under a glass coffee table. But Trump’s coin, nearly twice as thick as those of his White House forbears, is designed to literally stand on its own. It features a gold-plated, ribbon-shaped banner bearing his name in capital letters — DONALD J. TRUMP — that doubles as a rocking-horse-style base.

Trump challenge coin edge
Trump: "Mine's bigger."

President Trump's challenge coin, left, next to that of former president Barack Obama.

“It’s definitely not a standard coin,” said John Wertman, a collector of federal challenge coins who served as special assistant to the director of presidential letters and messages in the Clinton White House. He was among the first to get Trump’s coin, having received one in the mail at his Northern Virginia home after sending a letter of request to the White House.

After entering the White House, Trump asked aides to have the coins he received be displayed in the Oval Office, where a case is positioned behind the Resolute desk. Another case of coins is in the president’s library, aides said. (In Clinton’s official White House portrait, he is portrayed standing in front of his challenge-coin display.)

As in past administrations, Trump’s Cabinet has gotten into the act, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has a coin with his name on it.

Spicer had one of his own featuring a lectern on the back. A longtime Navy reservist, he has amassed a collection of about 150 coins, including one presented to him from Bush at the White House when he was promoted to commander.

To read the complete article, see:
It’s ‘very gold’: The presidential coin undergoes a Trumpian makeover (


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Wayne Homren, Editor

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