Challenge coins mark exciting moments in history and human experience. To collect them is to get a taste of what it was like to fight alongside Buffalo Bill and the 17th Infantry Regiment or Jocko and the rest of SEAL Team 3.
Want to relive the first summit between U.S. and North Korean leaders? There’s a challenge coin for that. You can even ride along with Google over 10 million miles of road, in a way.
These 13 challenge coins come with interesting tales and designs to broaden your horizons. Better yet, many of them are still available to buy (as of publication).
Military challenge coins with cool stories and designs
Heroism, bravery, stalwart spirit: These military challenge coins mark amazing deeds.
Commander Buffalo Bill’s exclusive circle
Though not currently for sale, this 17th Infantry Regiment coin is worth considering for the story alone.
The 17th Infantry dates back to 1812 with battle honors in everything from the Civil War to operations in Afghanistan, according to the 17th Infantry Regiment Association. This coin was given to members of the 17th Infantry Regiment by Lt. Gen. (then Colonel) William Quinn.
“1812” on the coin marks the initial activation of the regiment. But take a closer look at the design for a hint at this chapter in the regiment’s history.
The large buffalo on the back of the coin refers to Quinn’s radio call sign, “Buffalo Bill.” That buffalo became part of the official regiment crest.
“1950–1952” and “Korea” nod to the years the regiment spent in the country after landing in Inchon in September 1950. The coin was minted about two years after the regiment arrived in Korea; it was only issued for eight more years.
Jocko And Seal Team 3’s Struggle Against insurgents at Ramadi
As this coin says, “Dead men tell no tales.” While most of SEAL Team 3 Task Unit Bruiser, including its commander John “Jocko” Willink, survived the 2006 Battle of Ramadi, not everyone was so lucky. This coin commemorates their struggle and sacrifice.
Jocko and his unit fought alongside other U.S. military and Iraqi forces against insurgents in a brutal exchange lasting eight months. During that time, U.S. Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor dove on top of a grenade to save others’ lives and was posthumously given the Medal of Honor for his sacrifice. Read more about Jocko and Task Unit Bruiser from Spec Ops Magazine.
This SEAL Team 3 Task Unit 2 Bruiser Platoons C&D Ramadi Battle coin is available for $3,750 on eBay.
Delta Force’s Extreme Determination
The Delta Force Tier 1 Combat Application Group CAG coin ($3,500 on eBay) recognizes the elite 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. You may also know them as Delta Force or CAG.
Aspiring soldiers have to pass through a gauntlet of daunting tasks just to join Delta Force. One of the more challenging ones is the long-distance ruck. Recruits have to hike 40 to 50 miles over steep terrain with heavy packs—all to get assigned the most complex and dangerous counter-terrorism missions on behalf of the United States of America.
An NCOIC’s Experience Guarding A Berlin Checkpoint During the Cold War
With this coin, you can travel back in time to stand guard at a Berlin checkpoint during the Cold War.
Sgt. Michael Rafferty received this Checkpoint Charlie Berlin coin ($2,750 on eBay) for serving as the non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of the Allied Checkpoint Charlie during the Cold War. In that time, he witnessed Germans attacking the Berlin Wall with hammers and the dismantling of the checkpoint.
With your purchase, you get a signed photograph of Michael at the checkpoint as well as a news article. Want more details about Rafferty’s experience? Ask, and he just might tell you.
Bonus: Military Challenge Coins With Interesting Designs
The design on the back of this NSA Nuclear Command and Control coin ($1,750 on eBay) is reflective of the nuclear triad—the three arms of the U.S. nuclear security strategy. It indicates that the U.S. is prepared to protect its land and people by land with intercontinental ballistic missiles, by sea with ballistic missile submarines, and by air with bombers. (Learn more about the triad.)
Use this Lockheed Martin Cryptography coin ($349.99 on eBay) to crack any letter substitution cipher. The inner wheel spins to match up with your desired outer ring combination. Just how often this comes into play on a daily basis at Lockheed Martin remains to be seen.
Political challenge coins to mark presidential history
These political challenge coins let you unearth a mystery commendation (for a hefty fee) and remember key moments in U.S. and North Korean history.
The $19,999 Mystery POTUS Commendation
The seller doesn’t spill a lot of the details for this $19,999.99 43rd POTUS challenge coin.
According to the coin description, the seller was invited to a special meeting with President George W. Bush in May 2006 to receive a personal honor, including this challenge coin. You have to buy the coin to see photos of the seller with the president and get the skinny on what the seller and the head of state chatted about.
Want a less expensive POTUS coin? Check out this one from 44th President Barack H. Obama for $3,500.
The First Summit Between a U.S. President and the Leader of North Korea
In 2018, 45th POTUS Donald Trump met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to shake hands and discuss nuclear weapons, among other things. One buyer recently forked over $1,199.99 on eBay for the Donald Trump 2018 Singapore Summit coin commemorating that historic event.
There’s another coin commemorating the 2019 Vietnam summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un that didn’t go quite as smoothly. Get it for $899.88
Other old and odd challenge coins
Challenge coins don’t stop with the military or the White House. Some come from ancient times. Others commemorate events you may not have thought twice about.
A Coin Minted During the Reign of Hadrian
Now’s your chance to own an Ancient Roman challenge coin. This silver cistophoric tetradrachm ($1,395 on APMEX) was minted between 117 and 138 A.D. during the reign of Hadrian. This era is known for Hadrian’s Wall, a 73-mile long barrier that protected the northwestern part of Roman Britain from barbarians. (Learn more.)
The First Coin celebrating the Last of the Star Wars Prequels
Not as old but perhaps equally as exciting, this coin is the first of 50,000 commemorating the Episode III movie premiere.
You can buy the Episode III Revenge of the Sith challenge coin on eBay for $19,997. While some Star Wars fans might balk at spending that much to celebrate a lowly prequel, note that not everyone thinks Episode III is the worst Star Wars movie. (Plus, the cute dog adds value.)
A simple coin representing 10 Million Miles of Road
It’s no easy feat to capture street-level images of 10 million miles of road across the world. Somehow, Google’s Street View team did it, and they released a coin to mark the effort.
Unfortunately, this Google Street View Team Explore the World at Street Level coin has already sold for $999.42. Keep looking, though. There may be another out there just waiting for you to discover it.
Challenge coins celebrate human endeavors
From fighting off insurgents to casting Jar Jar Binks, challenge coins help us remember all that humans are capable of. Use them to dig deeper into the topics you’re most interested in or to learn about something entirely new.
Want to browse more rare, expensive, and interesting collector’s items? Check out “The $5,000 Mickey Mouse Pin Plus 14 More Pricey Pins to Pique Your Collecting Passion” to see what else is out there.