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Coining Rules

Coining Rules

Reference Notes

Military coins are used to raise funds for projects and occasions, to memorialize a unit or service, to commemorate special events or operations, to recognize participation or achievement, and to identify unit members or senior officials. The distribution of military coins enhances comradeship, improves morale, and builds unit cohesion.

When made available, organizational members should acquire several military coins for personal use. Whenever someone has worked successfully with members of other units or services, it is polite to exchange coins out of mutual respect. A replacement coin should be acquired as soon as possible upon return so as to remain prepared to match any challenge, or to further reward another comrade.

Military-style coins, as used by active duty and reserve components, paramilitary and veteran groups, are generally impersonal and unnumbered, with their rarity wholly based upon the limits of their production run. Some commissioned coins have been commercially imitated, so small manufacturing details may help to differentiate authentic specimens or date the contending examples. Serially numbered or dated coins, called challenge coins, conveniently eliminate any confusion over precedence. Supplemental coins, such as foreign currency or related coins, may not be substituted for the military coin to be matched during a challenge.

The tradition of placing a coin in the mouth of the deceased before burial derives from the pagan rite of paying for passage into the After-Life. The practice of leaving unit or message coins on enemy corpses, like death cards and patches or other insignia, is somewhat eccentric, due to the replacement costs and limited availability of appropriate coins during battlefield operations, but some novelty coins (eg: hunting club, varmint license, 72 virgins dating service, etc) have been used in this manner. When carried into the field, precautions must be taken to avoid noise and reduce weight. Possession of such provocative items, especially if captured, can generate dire consequences, since America's foes have never been renown for their forgiving nature or lighthearted attitude.

It should be noted that it's illegal to deface, disfigure, or deform U.S. currency; furthermore, the size and weight of commemorative medallions or commercial tokens must be other than that of U.S. coinage. Military coins are artifacts, and shall not be represented (slugs) as a legitimate medium of exchange.

For the purposes of a coin check, a coin is a two-sided military medallion or paramilitary token that has been manufactured in some durable material (typically metal, but not exclusively) that displays some raised or impressed design consisting of images, symbols, letters and/or numbers. Its size, shape, weight, consistency, composition, piercings, edge treatment, facial finish, or general condition is not disqualifying.

Although coins are traditionally disk shaped, many are now irregular and enameled. The coin, or its representation, on a ring, necklace, bracelet, key chain, watch, lighter, belt buckle, money clip, plaque, trophy, coaster, or ashtray constitutes an artifact that does not technically qualify as a coin for the purposes of this challenge.

The coining game consists of a coin challenge and a coin check ... a procedure not unlike the routine password ritual of challenge and response, except for the absence of checkpoints and hostile fire, at least in most situations. Anyone may confront anyone else, regardless of rank, during duty or off-duty hours, inside or outside, on or off the base or reservation, in order to ascertain if their coins match. Persons standing guard, marching in formation, operating a vehicle, or otherwise obligated are exempt from coining; however, anyone sleeping, undressing, relaxing, or otherwise uncommitted may be duly bidden, with all appurtenant consequences.

Such a coin contest may be individual or general, and must stipulate the stake or ante to be paid if the coins do not match. As with other tournaments, the initial wager may be raised by mutual consent until the increase either reduces competition or determines a winner. The stake may be a round of beverages, a set of exercises, a sum of money to be donated to a worthy fund, or any other fee or toll.

It is customary for the challenger to display his coin, by holding aloft or by open-handed palming or by slamming onto a nearby surface, while loudly proclaiming its identity and announcing the terms of the encounter. Striking the top of a desk or table, a helmet or even the engine hood of a vehicle, with enough force so as to leave an indelible impression of the coin is considered to be déclassé, and will be assessed a substantial penalty, including confiscation of the subject coin.

If a coin is inadvertently presented to public view, as when mixed with pocket change or dropped on the floor, any bystander may issue the challenge on behalf of the coin's owner ... thus obligating him to the terms declared for the game. This is the penalty for improper handling. Because the spectator has the option of making or of not making the challenge, such a declaration is usually a ploy by the onlooker to benefit from the contest without risk. This provision for accidental coining is intended to control the display of military coins, confining the game to appropriate settings.

As long as at least one other person in the affected group can match the challenge coin, the person or persons who cannot match that same coin are the losers, and must pay off the wager. If everyone in the group can match the coin, then the challenger may up the ante by adding another coin to the contest while increasing the payoff ... which escalation may continue until there is finally a loser. If everyone in the group can match the coin, and the challenger cannot add another coin to the contest, then the challenger is the loser!

Supplemental coins may include rating or qualification coins, project or operation coins, variants or foreign coinage. Coins that do not substantially match the challenge coin are invalid. The proffering of unit coins outside that unit may result in embarrassment, humiliation, or other untoward eventualities. Anyone pretending credentials or eligibility by misrepresentation will be subject to summary chastisement. Any attempt to pass a counterfeit coin, except when obviously novel or ribald, may generate unfortunate results, not the least of which is impoundment of the fake coin.

If the challenger identifies a particular coin, and nobody can match it, then the challenger loses, and must payoff to the group. This provision exists to prevent someone from creating a unique specimen that will always triumph because it is a solitaire. Military coins represent participation, so a one-of-a-kind coin does not convey comradeship.

Military coins are unofficial, and are subject to periodic redesign as unit membership changes over time. A legitimate coin may be represented by several different design treatments, hence the requirement to exactly match the coin presented. An exception to the regular rules, for the purposes of upping the ante, is to respectfully yield preeminence to the oldest pattern or the lowest number, which reinforces a shared lineage. Any coin that has been personalized with the owner's name or assignment, an operational unit or location, and the like, shall only be considered distinguishing when all other factors of a generic coin are equal. Presentation of a rare or exclusive coin, such as skill qualifications or award recipients (including Medal of Honor society members), shall conform to the same rules as more commonplace coins. Discriminating coin qualities, such as metallic value, are only germane if all other factors are equal, and such prominence is advantageous to the assemblage ... it is otherwise a minority affectation that loses against the majority. Coining is intended to reinforce in-group membership ... not reward irregularity or eccentricity.

Other than those exceptions already cited, there are no exceptions to the coining rules, and there are no privileged characters. Anyone coined who fails to respond to the challenge, or who refuses to payoff the terms of the wager, is a despicable rotter and contemptible scoundrel, whose name shall be posted for all to scorn, and who shall be universally shunned. If possessed of any military coins, these shall be expropriated in partial redress.

It is highly recommended that nobody ever be without his coin!

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