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    

Baltimore County Maryland Police Challenge CoinX-wing Miniatures Ffg Promo Metal Challenge Coin Spring 2016Rare Cia Baghdad Station Challenge Coin AuthenticCia Special Operations Training Coin/ Instructor HatCia Ordnance Cadre Coin, Very RareExtremely Rare Cia Afghanistan War Zone Service Challenge Coin AuthenticCia Global Response Staff Coin 1989 Secret Service Uniformed Division Inauguration Badge. Not Trump Obsolete Disneyland Resort Mickey & Pluto K9 Police Security Award Metal Challenge CoinLot (51) Ice Hsi Homeland Security Border Patrol Dept Justice Coins Pins Badges1997 Secret Service Uniformed Division Inauguration Badge Not Trump. Obsolete Cia Helms Center, Military Side CoinNypd Task Force Challenge Coin SetVery Rare Special Forces Buch Hogs Challenge Coin. Unreal Rare Odd Shape!! Central Intelligence Agency Cia Presidential Daily Briefing Challenge Coin MedalNavy Seals Seal Team 6 Vi Devgru Nsw Indian Arrow Tribe Challenge Coin Non Cpo !Nypd Very Rare Coney Island Tilly (3) Coin Series SetCia Central Eurasia Division CoinNational Park Service Challenge CoinLot Of 10 Military Challenge Coins(free Shipping)Lots Of 20 Dallas Chicago Los Angeles Boston...police Department Challenge CoinCia Field Activities Training Group CoinVery Rare Navy Seal Frogman Udt Challenge Coin. Seal Team Two. Very Rare!Fdny The Lions Den Engine 23 South Tower 9/11 Challenge CoinCanadian Rcaf Cf-18 Hornet Demo 2016 Bcatp Challenge CoinCanadian Rcaf 409 410 425 Cf-18 Equipment Demonstration Team Challenge CoinNypd Police Ezpass Challenge CoinGreen Bay Packers, Brown County Sheriff Super Bowl Challenge Coin Xlv4 Us Navy Seals Challenge Coins: 9 Seals Team Sig Mk25 Seal Team 18 & Red Wolves5 Challenge Coins: Us Navy Cpo Boba Fett Us Embassy Vietnam Ipa Seal Sig Mk25Cia Helms Center CoinNew York Jets Non Nypd Challenge CoinTexas Fort Worth Fire Dept Fwfd Challenge CoinChicago Fire Department Ems Challenge Coin - Rare Rescue Squad Engine Fdny LafdBangkok Thailand Marine Detachment Guard Coin Merrick Belgrade Serbia Marine Detachment Guard Coin Merrick Navy Chief Coin, Navy Seal Atc Non-cpo Challenge Coin. Genuine/authentic. Kx.Rare Nypd Chief Of Patrol Challenge Coin30 Coin Challenge Coin Random Grab Bag, Corporate, Personal, Military & Gov EtcFire Department City Of New York Explosives Unit Fdny Challenge Coin (not Nypd)Lagos Nigeria Marine Detachment Guard Coin Merrick Rare Nypd Internal Affairs Bureau Rat Squad Challenge CoinLuxembourg Marine Detachment Guard Coin MerrickTrump Border Patrol Inaugural Challenge Coin Not Nypd Police State 2017Lots Of 15 Boston Chicago Los Angeles Fire Dept. Challenge Coin Us Navy Seal Team 7 Chief Petty Officer/ Cpo Mess Challenge CoinRare Nypd Internal Affairs Bureau 25th Anniversary Challenge CoinFederal Bureau Of Prisons : Ftc Oklahoma City Challenge CoinNypd New York Giants Blue Lives Matter Challenge CoinNypd Challenge Coin – 15th Anniversary – 2001-2016 – Chief Of Department Msg Det Marine Security Guard Detachment Athens, Greece Challenge CoinU.s. Border Patrol Old El Paso Sector Challenge CoinUsss Secret Service Cut Out Challenge Coin Special Agent Shield Potus(new Sleeve Of 10 Coins) / 2nd. Battalion 393rd. Infantry RegimentChicago Cubs Police Mlb World Series Wrigley Field Challenge Coin Non Nypd Cpo !Rare Nypd Tilly Visits Rodmans Neck Challenge CoinNypd Fdny Yankee Met Subway Series Challenge CoinLuxembourg Marine Detachment Guard Coin MerrickBatman Superman Blue Lives Matter Line Of Justice Challenge Coin (not Nypd)Fdny Ems Gator Unit Coney Island Detail Challenge Coin Not Nypd