In recent years, the Saint Andrew’s Society of the City of Milwaukee challenge coin has been adopted as an irrevocable symbol of one's affiliation with and fealty to the organization. Challenge coins are presented to all new members of the Society upon acceptance. The coin is theirs to keep, independent of membership renewal. The front features Saint Andrew, patron saint of Scotland and First Apostle, encircled by our motto: Relieve the Distressed. On the reverse are the Scottish Saltire and Lion Rampant—powerful symbols of Scottish identity—and the year of our founding as Wisconsin's oldest charity.
Historically, challenge coins have been associated with military groups, used to confirm group membership and/or celebrate achievement. Typically these coins are emblazoned with the insignia, emblem, crest, or standard of the organization. While the exact origin of challenge coins as a means of establishing group membership is debatable, the spread of its use to non-military organizations worldwide is undeniable.
The Challenge itself has taken many forms over the years. Most common practice is to hold up the coin and announce to all present that members are being officially challenged. The stakes of a challenge are generally a round of drinks: any and all failing to produce the challenge coin must buy the next round. Should all present have their coins, the one making the challenge must buy the round.
As a practical matter, most members of the Saint Andrew’s Society of the City of Milwaukee are fond of Scotch whisky, and it is present at most gatherings. A challenge of members present therefore presumes that a round of drinks (whisky preferred) is at stake. As Scots are known to be thrifty (read: cheap), a failed challenge is painful indeed. However, the Challenge is good-natured in its intent. It serves to reaffirm membership, bearing witness to the bonds friendship and shared sense of purpose with those members present.