President Trump’s challenge coin includes several changes from those of his predecessors – gone are the presidential seal, the motto “E Pluribus Unum”, and the thirteen arrows representing the thirteen original states. The eagle faces right, not left, and the inclusion of his campaign slogan has his critics fretting about the separation of politics and the military. No, really.
From the Washington Post article:
The presidential seal has been replaced by an eagle bearing President Trump’s signature.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.”
From a historical perspective, the presidential coins as collector swag are relatively new.
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 phrase “Make America Great Again” was trademarked by Trump in 2012. He didn’t coin the phrase (pun intended) but has co-opted it as his own. Ronald Reagan used it in his 1980 campaign, Bill Clinton used it in his 1992 campaign and also in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. It should be no surprise that Trump wanted it on his challenge coin. Trump is first and foremost a marketer. No one sells Donald Trump better than Donald Trump. Using his trademarked slogan, whether in an actual presidential campaign or in governing, is just part of the territory.
Just like his red cap, Trump wanted to be involved in the coin’s design. This is also different in that it can stand. (Washington Post)
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.
No one should have expected such a one-of-a-kind president to have a run-of-the-mill presidential challenge coin.