In a widely reported but probably apocryphal story, challenge coins got their start during World War I, when an American pilot, who had been shot down over France and lost his dog tags, was able to prove his Allied affiliation to French soldiers on the lookout for German spies by showing them a bronze medal made by a wealthy Army Air Service lieutenant.

The more likely origin of the challenge coin, though, dates to the 1960s, when a serviceman in the 11th Special Forces Group (Airborne) overstruck old U.S. coins with the group’s emblem, and passed them out to other members of the unit. The practice was soon picked up by other units and was used primarily as a drinking game, in which members of the unit who were not able to produce a coin when challenged were obliged to buy everyone a round of drinks.

In the decades that followed, challenge coins became a part of military culture—by some estimates more than 10,000 issues have been minted. At the low end of the spectrum are coins produced for lieutenant colonels and sergeant majors in the Army, who pass them out to troops as small tokens, literally, of appreciation. Coins produced for officers of higher rank are more difficult to come by, although challenge coins have been sold in military gift shops since Operation Desert Storm in 1990, so in that sense most are not rare.

Among the most sought challenge coins are those given by the president and vice-president. Reportedly, President Clinton had a case filled with his challenge-coin collection on display in the Oval Office. Challenge coins have also been minted for employees of the CIA and NSA, although, for obvious reasons, they are not used as official evidence of the holder’s employment in either government agency.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Us Armed Forces Past & Present Coin Active Military Veteran Army Navy Usaf UsmcBoston Red Sox 1 & 5/8 Inch Challenge Coin 2013 World Series Champs Sports MlbChallenge Coin - Israel Counter Terror SchoolChallenge Coin - Us Department Of Homeland SecurityChallenge Coin - U.s. Army Special Forces - TexasChallenge Coin - Dea Fast (foreign-deployed And Advisory Support Teams)2014 Whitehouse Usn Chiefs Mess Coin / Cpo / Navy / Presidential / Potus / Rare Us Cia Central Intelligence Agency Challenge Coin2012 Uss Enterprise (cvn-65) At-sea-fire Party Final Deployment Challenge Coin! Nsa National Security Agency Spin Crypto Army Inscom Military Intelligence CoinColt 1911 Us Air Force Display BoxCarrier Strike Group 2 Navy Chief Coin Challenge Coin Navy Cpo Challenge CoinCia Director Challenge Coin Authentic Rare "bone Frog" Challenge Coin, Seal, Trident, Nsw,brushed Antique Finish, Corrected2012 Uss Enterprise (cvn-65) Medical Dept. Final Deployment Challenge Coin! 2014 Master Chief Petty Officer Of The Navy Mcpon Reunion Coin Rare2012 Uss Enterprise (cvn-65) Engineering Dept. Final Deployment Challenge Coin! Cl Andestine Service Cic Counterintelligence Center Medallion Challenge Coin Uss Georgia Ssgn 729 Chief Coin ( Cpo )U.s.secret Service Explosives Detection Team Canine Unit Challenge Coin2012 Uss Enterprise (cvn-65) Weapons Dept. Final Deployment Challenge Coin! Cia Sad Central Intelligence Agency Hostage Rescue Unit Medallion Challenge Coin4 Military/dept. Of Defense Challenge Coins Sec Def, General, Medal Of HonorVery Rare Border Patrol Laredo Sector Alamo Police Challenge Coin!! 3d & Thick!Thick Border Patrol Pipes & Drums Honor Guard Police Challenge Coin!!Us Navy Chief CoinRare Border Patrol Grand Forks Station Diecut Police Challenge Coin!!Rare Brian A Terry Eow Border Patrol Police Challenge Coin!!Rare Puerto Rico/usvi U.s. Border Patrol Ramey Sector Challenge CoinCrazy Huge Odd Shaped Eod Challenge Coin! Sweet Design. Rare Find. Navy Non-cpo Challenge Coin**first Issue Coin** Blackwater Authentic Rare ... Cia Fbi Nsa Navy SealChallenge Coin: Uss Washington Ssn-787 / Precommisioning Non Cpo / Only 787 MadeUs Navy Uss Illinois Ssn 786 Challenge Coin Military Ice Sac Houston Texas Police Challenge Coin..dhs Border PatrolCommemorative Challenge Coin And Mardi Gras Doubloon Lot Director Of National Intelligence Challenge Coin *authentic*Huge 3 Inch Border Patrol Grand Forks Op Stonegarden Police Challenge Coin!!Big Border Patrol Yuma Sector K-9 Program Police Challenge Coin!!Large Border Patrol Doj Legacy Police Challenge Coin!!True Art Conceals The Means By Which It Is Achieved Medallion Challenge Coin Nypd Challenge CoinDea Challenge Coin - Drug Enforcement Administration Detroit Division -policeBig 3d Border Patrol Yuma Sector Air Mobile Unit Police Challenge Coin!!Rare Border Patrol Del Rio Sector Doj Srt Police Challenge Coin!!Michigan State Police Trooper Challenge Coin (last One)Special Forces Group 1st 3rd 5th 7th 10th Sf Sfg Operations Command Socom CoinDea Challenge Coin - Drug Enforcement Administration Aviation Division - PoliceDea Challenge Coin - Drug Enforcement Administration - Task Force Officer Tfo2012 Uss Enterprise (cvn-65) Security Final Deployment Challenge Coin! Nypd Challenge Coin ( Dea Detective Coin)Blackwater Challenge CoinNypd Aviation Challenge CoinLarge Odd Shaped Usns Rappahannock-tao 204 Chief's Award Challenge Coin Nypd Challenge Coin500 + Challenge Coin CollectionWalnut Challenge Coin Display Case Challenge Coin 4th Ranger Training Bn Benning Phase Airborne Awesome Find Rare Dea Challenge Coin - Caribbean Division - Puerto RicoNairobi Kenya Marine Security Guard Detachment Department State Challenge Coin