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    

Challenge Coin - Svr - Russian Foreign Intelligence ServiceCamp Fallujah Iraq Challenge Coin Us Military Base Army Marines Air Force Navy Challenge Coin - Us Army 2nd Ranger Bn Ww2 - Pointe Du HocChallenge Coin - Us National Security Agency NsaUs Army Intelligence Support Activity (usaisa) Challenge CoinLos Angeles Fire And Rescue Challenge Coin Lafd Paramedic Emt Firefighter Challenge Coin - American Patriot - Us And Gadsden Flags - Don't Tread On MeChallenge Coin - Marine Corps Forces - Special Operations Command - UsmcWashington State Patrol Badge Challenge Coin Officer Trooper Highway PatrolBoston Red Sox Challenge Coin 2013 World Series Major League Baseball Sports MlbRare Military Challenge Coin Lot (director, National Security Agency Nsa)Inert 30mm Api Projectile. Pgu-14/b Display-only. Challenge Coin - Us Army 325th Airborne InfantryRare Phoenix Az 2011 Mlb All-star Game Police Badge!! Not A Challenge Coin!!Huge Lot Of Coins +tokens+medals+collectibles-over 200 Pcs-17-rare World CoinsSeal Delivery Vehicle Team 1 Charlie Platoon Challenge Coin (non- Cpo) Seal TeamUnion Pacific Police Challenge Coin Rare Up RailroadDhs Cbp Us Border Patrol Challenge Coin (ice Fbi Dea Secret Service Atf Police)Lot Of 32 Military Challenge Coins/ Tons Of Rare Alaskan Ones / No Reserve! Challenge Coin - U.s. Army 77th Special Forces GroupFire Department County Of Los Angeles Fire Museum Challenge CoinUs Border Patrol 90th Anniversary Challenge CoinRare Vaw 324 Bear Aces Cpo Chief's Mess Navy Military Challenge Coin Htf Oef San Bernardino County Sheriff-coroner Police Challenge Coin Denver Police Department Metro/swat Special Services Unit Police Challenge Coin 2014 Mlb All Star Game Minneapolis Police Challenge Coin / Patch / Memorabilia Rare Fbi Los Angeles Division Hazmat Police Challenge Coin!!Cpo Chiefs Mess Patrol Squadron Forty Six Vp-46 Grey Knights Navy Challenge CoinRare Patrol Squadron 46 Trident Cpo Chief's Mess Navy Military Challenge Coin Naval Special Warfare Gp Three #017 Navy First Class Mess Challenge Coin / SealRare! Navy Chief Petty Officer Of The Navy Mcpon Joe R. Campa Jr. Challenge CoinRare Mcpo Of The Coast Guard Michael P. Leavitt Military Challenge Coin HtfBagram Chief Petty Officer Cpo Mess Navy Military Challenge Coin Htf Delaware State Police Recruiting Police Challenge Coin Chairman Joint Chiefs Of Staff General Myers Challenge CoinNaval Special Warfare Challenge Coin (camp Billy Machen) Last One For A While.California Highway Patrol "2013" Challenge Coin - 1.75" - Only 1 AvailableIsaf Chief Petty Officer Cpo Chief's Mess Navy Military Challenge Coin Htf Oef Challenge Coin, 407th Brigade Support Bn,82nd Airborne Division,command TeamSacramento Sheriff's Airport K-9 Explosive Detection Unit Police Challenge Coin Uss Minnesota (ssn-783) Commissioning Non Cpo Us Navy Challenge CoinNro National Reconnaissance Office Challenge CoinCpo Chief Vaq-137 World Famous Rooks 1973 Bird Shaped Opener Navy Challenge CoinNew Zealand Police Staff Safety Tactical Training Police Challenge Coin Us Navy Challange Coin- Uss Mobile Bay Cg 53-- New In Holder--from An Estate Buy1911 Pistol 100th Anniversary Challenge Coin Gunsite Academy Colt M1911Rare Cbp Border Patrol Srt Dhs Police Challenge Coin!!Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael T Flynn Challenge Coin Dia CiaHeckler & Koch M27 Iar Challenge Coin. Very Hard To FindAuthentic Navy Seals Team Six Devgru Neptune Spear Bin Laden Op Challenge CoinUss Newport News Ssn-750 Us Navy Submarine Challenge Coin Cpo Ask The ChiefSpecial Operations Command Central (soccent) Command Coin [non Cpo] RareCpo Chief Electronic Attack Squadron Vaq-138 Yellow Jackets Navy Challenge CoinRare Ssbn 732 Skull Cpo Chief's Mess Navy Military Challenge Coin Htf Glock 20 Years In North America 1986 - 2006 Challenge CoinRare Tucson Az Warrant Apprehension Team Swat Police Challenge Coin!!Marine Security Guard Detachment Msg Warsaw Polland Rare Htf Challenge CoinNavy Special Warfare Group Three Military Challenge Coin Very Nice And Htf!Los Angeles Police Homicide Police Challenge Coin (historical Society)Los Angeles Police Department William J Bratton Chief Of Police Challenge Coin