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    

Captain America Shield Cpo Navy Super Hero Challenge Coin MilitaryRare Nypd Challenge Coin Ticket To The Greatest Show One Earth Challenge CoinLot Of 39 Us Navy Chief Petty Officer Cpo Challenge Coins Veteran EarnedPacnorwest Cpo Coin Class 120 Jason MaskLot Of 35 Cia, Fbi, Dept. Of State, Tbi, Irs, Governor, Senate Challenge Coins Nypd Intel Division 2015 Pope Coin New/rare!!Nypd Brooklyn North Narcotics CoinGreat Lakes Door Cpo Coin Very Hard To FindCamp David Cpo CoinNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police 76 Pct Nypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Intelligence BureauHawaii Door Cpo Coin Very Hard To FindMcpon West CoinWhite House Cpo CoinNavy Chief Cpo Seal Challenge CoinNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police 7th Pct Uss Enterprise Final Deployment Cvn 65 Cpo Coin Very Hard To Find Vaw 123Navy Environmental And Preventive Medicine Unit Non Cpo Coin Hawaii TurtleUs Navy Seal Team Devgru Command Challenge CoinNypd Police Challenge Coin Auto Larcent Unit 10-16 Stolen Vehicle Brooklyn BronxNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Intelligence Bureau Threat AssessmentCargo Handeling Battalion Chb Ten Cpo CoinUss Ramage Ddg 61 Cpo CoinNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Detective BureauNypd Thin Blue Line Challenge Coin - Blue Nyc Skyline In White American FlagNypd Challenge Coin New York Police Brooklyn Gang Squad Skull 1634 1898Uss George Washington Cvn 73 Cpo Coin Very Hard To FindNew York Police Depatment Nypd 75 Pct Brooklyn North Challenge CoinNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Street CrimesCvn 71 Uss Roosevelt Cpo Coin BrickPa State Police Eric Frein Manhunt Challenge Coin Pennsylvania No Patch Nypd NewNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Emerald Society 9/11Uss San Diego Lpd 22 Cpo CoinGlock Challenge Coin- Dog Tag- R. Lee ErmeyGlock R.lee Ermey Usmc Challenge CoinNypd New York City Police Academy Challenge Coin. College Point/gramercy ParkNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Midtown North Hells KitchenHawaii Region Spam Cpo CoinCvn 75 Uss Truman Cpo CoinUss Eisenhower Cvn 69 Cpo Coin Hard To FindRare Seal Naval Special Warfare Group Three Sdv Cpo CoinCia Ncs National Clandestine Service Iraq Operations Group Latin & Greek 1.75" Australian Army Third Herd Iii Squadron Sasr Challenge CoinUss Constitution Cpo Heritage Challenge CoinNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police 60 Pct Detective SquadNypd Explosives Detection K9 Challange CoinNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Housing Police PatchUss New Jersey Bb 62 Cpo CoinNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Highway PatrolUss Monsoon Pc 4 Cpo Coin Very Hard To FindNsa Hampton Roads Cpo Coin Class 120 SpadeNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Gang SquadUss Roosevelt Cvn 71 Cpo Coin Hard To FindSeal Naval Special Warfare Development Group Cpo Coin Team Six Very Hard To FindNypd Challenge Coin New York City Police Counter Terrorism BureauLot Of 23 Challenge Coins Marine Army Navy Desert Storm Reruiting Station Nypd Police Coin Shea Stadium Citi Field Ny Mets Queens North Task Force NewUss Warrior Mcm 10 Cpo Coin Spartan Helmet Bottle OpenerGlock Challenge Coin - New York City Police And Fire Games Coin Uss Mccampbell Ddg 85 Cpo Coin