A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting CIA Challenge Coins

A Beginner's Guide to Collecting CIA Challenge Coins

Fun fact: at the CIA, you need clearance to get your coffee. In fact, even the barista needs vetting to serve an iced cup of joe. Many CIA members don’t even give them their real names when ordering their daily latte. 

As you can see, every aspect of working at the CIA is severe and high stakes. When much of what you do is confidential, it’s difficult to get public recognition. That’s where CIA challenge coins come in.

These symbolic coins are a unique memento of the spy agency’s legacy-and its members. Read on as we give a precis on how to start collecting these types of coins.

What Are CIA Challenge Coins?

Rare coins that prove membership go way back to the Roman Empire. In the CIA, they are no different. Think of them as a trophy in coin form for individual merit.

Like other challenge coins, a CIA challenge coin features the CIA’s iconic logo. They are bespoke and given to each and every employee according to their special achievements. Whether a brand new member or a seasoned veteran, CIA members are bound to have one.

Other U.S. departments don’t normally give out challenge coins. That makes the ones from the CIA particularly valuable.

How to Collect Challenge Coins

The coin-collecting hobby is a vast one that encompasses coins from all countries and eras. The same general principles apply to CIA challenge coins, too.

Find Rare Coin Marketplaces

The best place to start is with a reputable marketplace. Many of these are in-person flea markets where long-time coin dealers display their wares. Drop by and see if you can’t find a CIA challenge coin.

Speak to Experts

If you are entirely new to this hobby, don’t neglect your elders. Speak to others who have skin in the game and ask them where to find the challenge coins. They can likely give helpful pointers-including realistic prices.

Weed Out the Fakes

Unfortunately, the hobby of collecting rare coins is replete with forgeries. Many, many individuals will try to deprive you of your hard-earned cash. Learn how to identify fake coins and know the tells of real ones.

Speak to Former CIA Members

The best place to find these specific types of coins is with the people who receive them. Befriend members of the CIA, and you may be one step closer to having your own. For all you know, they could entrust their coin to you for safekeeping after they retire.

Attend CIA Member Estate Sales

Estate sales of a former CIA member could be the perfect place to find challenge coins. Their surviving relatives may have no interest in keeping the coins for posterity. This way, you could save a lot of money on a valuable relic.

Start Your Coin Collection Today

CIA challenge coins are exceedingly rare since only CIA members receive them. They present a worthy challenge in acquiring, given you can’t exactly dig them up like other rare coins. Use some of the above tips to begin your collection of challenge coins.

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