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The U.S. Mint has announced that the obverse for these curved commemorative coins would be decided by a 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Design Competition! That means that while the reverse design based on the famous “Buzz Aldrin on the Moon” photograph taken July 20, 1969 will be created by the U.S. Mint, the motif on the obverse will be chosen from among the designs submitted in this competition!
Despite the freedom allowed to any artist submitting their designs for this commemorative, the obverse designs must conform to the following standards:
Will you be submitting one of your own designs? Check out the official rules to see what else you need to know about designing the 2019 Apollo 11 Commemorative coin!
The Senate passed the bill late last week, meaning this coin only has to be signed by the President before it is made a law. Once that happens, the coins described in this article will be on the U.S. Mint's schedule for 2019!
The House of Representatives passed this bill by voice vote on Monday, December 5th, bringing these exciting coins one step closer to a successful launch in 2019. There is still a ways to go, as the Bill must receive unanimous approval in the Senate and the Executive office before it can pass. This means it is especially important to contact your senator if you want to see these coins struck!
On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to land on the moon, during which Armstrong simply said, “The eagle has landed.” Anyone old enough to have witnessed this event on television remembers the inimitable words of Armstrong a few minutes later, as he stepped on the moon’s surface. “That’s one small step for man… One giant leap for mankind.”
Besides achieving the goal established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 of sending a man to the moon, the moon landing was a triumph of American scientific and technological ingenuity. This historical event impacted people all over the world, and served as powerful symbolic victory for the U.S. during the Cold War. At long last, the United States had won the Space Race.
This major event has been honored on a number of modern world commemorative coins, such as on a group of Silver and Gold French coins issued in 2009. Oddly, and despite this numismatic commemoration from other countries, there have been no major U.S. coin programs to mark the event or any of its anniversaries. In fact, the only time the subject has appeared on American coinage was on the reverses of the Eisenhower and Susan B. Anthony dollars, which alluded to the event by showing the moon (on the Eisenhower dollar) and an American eagle landing on the moon (on the Anthony dollar).
In 2015, Representative Bill Posey of Florida introduced a bipartisan bill, the Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2726). This act proposes honoring the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with a series of commemorative coins. The proposed program includes the usual three coins - a clad half dollar, a silver dollar, and a $5 gold coin - each in both uncirculated and proof finishes. In an unusual turn, however, this act also calls for the creation of a 5 oz. .999 fine proof silver piece!
The design on the reverse of each moon landing coin, which will be convex in shape, will be a representation of the famous photo of Buzz Aldrin on the moon. It will show Aldrin’s visor, which will fit perfectly with the shape of the coin, and will display the reflection present on his visor in the original photo. The concave obverse will feature a design that will be selected through a design competition. In addition, the legislation adds another first by specifying that the coins “should be produced with the reverse design continuing over what would otherwise be the edge of the coins, such that the reverse design extends all the way to the obverse.”
Provided that all the costs associated with producing and promoting the coins are first recouped, surcharges on the sale of each coin will be sent to some very worthy organizations, including the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs, the Astronaut Memorial Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit.
On May 19 of this year a companion bill, S. 2957, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Bill Nelson (D- FL). In order for the program to become a reality, the House bill needs at least 290 co-sponsors, which it has already surpassed, to be voted on, while the Senate bill needs 67 co-sponsors to be put to a vote. If these thresholds are not met, and the bill does not get voted on by both chambers, the bills will die at the end of current Congress, and the process would need to begin all over again in 2017 with new bills.
Although the Senate bill currently has only 11 co-sponsors, the situation is actually more encouraging than it seems, according to Michael Olson, an Iowa collector who previously served on the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. Mr. Olson first suggested these coins when he was on the CCAC, and he has worked with the Congress since 2014 to promote the program by meeting with members of congress and writing about the proposed coins.
Mr. Olson told me on October 18 that there has recently been a major push to get this legislation passed. The congressional effort has been led by Rep. Posey and others, and there has also been involvement from many people in the space community such as former astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who sent letters to Congress indicating their strong support for the coins.
Congress is currently in recess and returns in November after the presidential election. Mr. Olson is cautiously optimistic that momentum will build for the Senate bill after a likely vote by the House on its bill after the Congress reconvenes in November. Once that happens, the spotlight will be on the Senate to act.
During the week of November 14, members of the Astronaut Memorial Fund and Astronaut Scholarship Fund will be in DC to meet with senators to seek their support of the legislation.
Space travel and astronomy are hot topics today now that President Obama has set the goal of manned mission to Mars by the 2030’s and entrepreneur Elon Musk has proposed setting up a colony on Mars. Recent space probes that landed on Mars and Jupiter, confirming recent discoveries about the size of the universe have certainly helped this along.
The 2019 Apollo 11 coins are not only a fitting and long overdue tribute to one of the greatest achievements of mankind, but are also a great way to help promote further interest in astronomy and science. These coins could encourage children of today to become the astronauts and scientists of tomorrow. Since they will have crossover appeal for non-collectors interested in the space program, they could also be good for the future of numismatics by increasing the ranks of collectors!
When these commemoratives are issued, you will certainly find them available at ModernCoinMart.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|