The Classics Are the Best
The entire history of the world is written through military action and moments of grand exploration. Humanity wouldn’t be where it is today if brave and combative men and women hadn’t sailed forward into the unknown and explored what all the world had to offer. Even as we’ve progressed and evolved, and our ability to explore and battle have also evolved, there’s still something appealing about looking to history for inspiration.That’s one of the reasons imagery pulled from the Viking and Spartan cultures continues to be so popular with military units today. These ancient civilizations went a long way towards defining our concepts of battle, bravery and exploration. Their effects are so strong that all of these centuries later, their mythologies are still synonymous with all of the best traits of a soldier.
Looking through a collection of past orders of challenge coins leads to finding a large number of coins featuring design elements of Viking and Spartan cultures. We thought it would be fun to look at some of our favorite coins drawing on these particular sources of inspiration.
This Is Sparta!
The Spartans were one of the most successful military units in history, and with films like 300, they’re also one of the more popular groups you’ll find. A lot of what we think of when we think of brotherhood and cooperation within warfare comes directly from the practices of the Spartans.
For the most part, the orders we get in for Spartan coins tend to come from the U.S. Army more than any other branch of the Armed Forces. Given the Spartan’s superior land forces, this isn’t surprising. The coin orders we get in often bring the Spartan shield or helmet into their designs.
This coin makes use of a 3D mold to get the most out of the helmet on the obverse coin face. The jagged lines and scarification on the helmet is extended out to the custom edge of the coin, giving the coin an element of strength and longevity. This coin is also dual plated in antique gold and silver, but unlike a lot of our dual plated coins, this one doesn’t rely on the plating to create the overall effect of the coin. The light blue colorfill on the front face is far more striking than the plating. Also, it goes without saying that the choice of antique plating instead of high polish is the best choice for coins evoking a sense of the past.
Another coin making use of 3D to excellent effect, this Spartan shield coin is curved and textured in a very unique and authentic way. Again, with this coin, antique plating wins the day, but this time it’s antique copper. And the knicks and cuts in the shield are a fun addition.
Of course, 3D molds make for coin designs that really pop, but that doesn’t mean that something amazing can’t be accomplished with a 2D coin as well. This coin was created in honor of the soldiers serving on Operation Spartan Shield. The only Spartan element of the design is the helmet in the center of the coin, but that is also the most interesting aspect of the coin. The helmet is a spinner, suspended on a vertical axis. To make the coin even more interactive, the top is also a functional bottle opener.
Heading to Valhalla
During a time when most civilizations believed the world was flat and the waters were full of monsters large enough to swallow a ship whole, the Vikings set out from their Nordic shores and went about exploring the seas.
Given their fierceness and bravery, it’s no wonder the number of orders we get in that make use of Viking imagery in their designs.
These two coins borrow greatly from Norse mythology. The Odin coin was created for an Army unit nicknamed the Ravens, and you can clearly see Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn, on either side of the image of the wise god. That coin also makes use of our cut-to-shape option to create a truly unique silhouette. The other coin also makes use of Huginn and Muninn, but this time they’re seen perched on Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. This coin was commissioned for The Vikings, a special forces Army battalion, and the use of translucent colorfill and the particularly Norse looking font used around the coin’s edge really set it apart.
This black nickel challenge coin cuts a striking figure on its own. The bearded skull-like face combines with the helmet and the crossed axes to make a very intimidating image. But part of the fun of this coin in particular is that we worked hard to get the coin made with a few different colorfill options. The different color combinations almost make it look like a new coin each time.
If you think the American Armed Forces are the only ones capitalizing on these historic images for their coins, think again. This coin from the 2nd Commando Regiment of the Aussie Army features a fierce Viking on the front face and an interesting 3D molded dagger. The cutouts really make the coin unique, allowing the primary elements to stand out all the better.
Incorporating Fierce Warrior Images into Your Coins
The U.S. Navy is one branch that doesn’t make use of Viking imagery as often as you would think. But just because they haven’t done so yet doesn’t mean they can’t or never will. All it takes is one idea, one request made to our sales team, and you could start a new trend in challenge coins for your branch of the military.
Furthermore, while these coins are mostly for military branches, that doesn’t mean that the same kind of imagery can’t be used on other types of challenge coins. If you have an appreciation for Spartan or Viking culture, include it on your next challenge coin order. Much like the open seas the Vikings originally sailed, the opportunities of what we can accomplish for your coins are endless.