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Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Program

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Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Program

Coming soon: 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Program

Next January the U.S. Mint will unveil a set of four special coins that honor the 50th anniversary of one of the most important events in U.S. and world history that was also a major scientific and technological achievement: the first manned mission to the moon by the three astronauts of the Apollo 11 flight: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first two men to walk on the moon, and Michael Collins, command module pilot, who created the famous mission patch that appears on the Robbins medals MCM sells.

This seminal event marked the triumph of the NASA space program and the race against the USSR to put the first man on the moon.  It was also an incredibly important achievement for all of mankind, as captured in the famous first words Neil Armstrong uttered as he stepped out of the lunar module and onto the moon’s surface: “That is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

In 2016, Congress authorized, and President Obama signed into law, the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (Public Law 114-282) “in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon.”

The legislation calls for the issuance of four coins in a curved shape, i.e., concave on the obverse and convex on the reverse: a clad half dollar with a mintage limit of 750,000 coins, a $1 silver coin with a mintage limit of 400,000 coins, a 5-oz.,3-inch diameter $1 silver Proof coin with a limit of 100,000 coins, and a $5 gold coin with a 50,000-mintage limit.  The 5 oz. piece will only be issued in Proof, while the other three coins will be issued with Proof and uncirculated finishes.

 

In addition, there will also be a previously unannounced special 2-coin half dollar set with the Apollo 11 half dollar and one Kennedy Enhanced Reverse Proof Half Dollar, celebrating the connection between President John F. Kennedy and the U.S. space program.  Only 100,000 of these sets will be made.

On May 25, 1961 during a speech before a joint session of Congress, President Kennedy set the goal of sending a manned mission to the moon by the end of that decade, which was achieved with the Apollo 11 mission.

Three recipient organizations, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, are authorized to receive the surcharges from the sale of the coins ($35 per gold coin, $10 per silver coin, $5 per clad coin and $50 per 5 ounce silver proof), which will be used for various space-related purposes.

These coins, which are the most anticipated numismatic products in many years, will have a broad appeal far outside the numismatic hobby, especially for those who were alive during the moon landing, or who were otherwise profoundly impacted by the event.

Numismatically, they also represent several firsts for the U.S. Mint: the 5 oz. silver Proof will be the first proof, curved, and reeded-edge coin ever issued!

In addition, these coins are only the second-ever curved ones from the U.S. Mint following the 2014 50th anniversary Baseball Hall of Fame coins.  Modern coin collectors have shown a great interest in curved-shaped coins, especially when the shape and theme fit so well together.

The Design

The designs of both sides of these exciting coins were unveiled by the U.S. Mint on October 11 at an event held at the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.  In attendance were the Director of the U.S. Mint David Ryder, Dr. Ellen Stofan, Director National Air & Space Museum, Gabe Sherman, Deputy Chief of Staff NASA, and Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7 Astronaut.

The day the designs were unveiled was also the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo mission, Apollo 7, to carry a manned crew into space, including Walt Cunningham, who spoke at the event about how important manned space travel has been and how excited he is about the coins.

The concave obverse design, which appears on each coin, features the inscriptions “MERCURY,” “GEMINI,” and “APOLLO,” separated by phases of the Moon, and a footprint on the lunar surface, which together represent the efforts of the United States space program leading up to the first manned Moon landing.  Additional inscriptions include “2019,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “LIBERTY.”

This design was created by sculptor Gary Cooper of Maine, whose design was selected through a public competition held by the U.S. Mint.  Mr. Cooper has designed many other coins and medals and submitted designs for past U.S. Mint coin programs.

The designs submitted for the competition, which had two phases, had to be emblematic of the United States space program leading up to the first manned Moon landing.  Mr. Cooper is a medallic sculptor who previously submitted entries for the Maine state quarter and who has designed a number of military-themed plaques and ultra-high relief coins and medals.

The obverse design was engraved by Joseph Menna, a Sculptor-Engraver at the U.S. Mint.

The convex reverse design, which appears on each coin, features a representation of a close-up of the famous “Buzz Aldrin on the Moon” photograph taken July 20, 1969, that shows just the visor and part of the helmet of astronaut Buzz Aldrin.  The reflection in Buzz Aldrin’s helmet includes astronaut Neil Armstrong, the United States flag, and the lunar module.  Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," the denomination, and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."

This design was created and engraved by U.S. Mint artist Phoebe Hemphill.

When will they be available?

These coins will be released by the U.S. Mint on January 24, and MCM expects to have ungraded and graded examples with an assortment of labels soon after that.

 

 

 

Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin Design Unveiling

The unveiling ceremony for the design of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program was held in the Moving Beyond Earth Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, DC, October 11, 2018. Walter Cunningham, Apollo 7 astronaut and Sheryl Chaffee, representing the Astronaut Memorial Foundation and daughter of Apollo astronaut Roger Chaffee unveil the reverse side of the coin and, from left, Curtis Brown, representing the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation; Ellen R. Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum; and David Ryder, director, United States Mint look on. Maine artist Gary Cooper’s design was selected from among 18 designs whittled down from 119 originally by artists in a public design competition for the coin program.

Credit: Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, photo by Jim Preston

 

 

Curtis Brown, representing the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and Ellen R. Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum, unveil the obverse side of the coin as David Ryder, director, United States Mint, Walter Cunningham, Apollo 7 astronaut and Sheryl Chaffee, representing the Astronaut Memorial Foundation and daughter of Apollo astronaut Roger Chaffee look on. Maine artist Gary Cooper’s design was selected from among 18 designs whittled down from 119 originally by artists in a public design competition for the coin program.

Credit: Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, photo by Jim Preston

 

Apollo 7 Astronaut Walter Cunningham speaks during the unveiling ceremony for the design of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program was held in the Moving Beyond Earth Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, DC, October 11, 2018. The other official speakers during the event were: Ellen R. Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum; Gabe Sherman, deputy chief of staff, NASA; and David Ryder, director, United States Mint. Assisting with the unveiling were Sheryl Chaffee, representing the Astronaut Memorial Foundation and daughter of Apollo astronaut Roger Chaffee; and Curtis Brown, representing the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Maine artist Gary Cooper’s design was selected from among 18 designs whittled down from 119 originally by artists in a public design competition for the coin program.

Credit: Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, photo by Mark Avino

Official speakers for the event were: Ellen R. Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum; Gabe Sherman, deputy chief of staff, NASA; Walter Cunningham, Apollo 7 astronaut and David Ryder, director, United States Mint. Assisting with the unveiling were Sheryl Chaffee, representing the Astronaut Memorial Foundation and daughter of Apollo astronaut Roger Chaffee; and Curtis Brown, representing the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Maine artist Gary Cooper’s design was selected from among 18 designs whittled down from 119 originally by artists in a public design competition for the coin program.

Credit: Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, photo by Jim Preston