“The Eagle has landed.” The now-famous phrase spoken by United States astronaut Neil Armstrong was a victory cry heard across the globe when he and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to land on the moon on July 20, 1969.

The monumental feat was celebrated worldwide, and now the international coin community is celebrating the United States as its 2019-dated silver coin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing is named the winner of the 2021 Coin of the Year awards.

The Coin of the Year program, now in its 38th year, is an internationally conducted competition presented by World Coin News to recognize outstanding coin design and innovation worldwide. The 2021 program – sponsored by The Journal of East Asian NumismaticsNumisCollect, and China Gold Coin Incorporation – honors coins dated 2019 in 10 categories of competition as decided by an international panel of judges.

The 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing coin is a 5-ounce, 3-inch-diameter proof silver dollar with a curved shape. It won two COTY category awards.

“In the first round of COTY voting by category, the United States Mint 5-ounce Apollo 11 dollar received twice as many votes in Best Contemporary Event as its closest competitor,” said Tom Michael, COTY coordinator, World Coin News contributor and market analyst. “It was nominated again in the Best Silver Coin category, where the voting was much more competitive, so I think the event itself was the most significant factor in early voting. However, I am sure that theme, design and challenging production must all have factored into the judges’ decisions on the final vote for overall Coin of the Year, where voting was quite competitive.”

The obverse, concave side of the coin depicts a footprint on the lunar surface. Inscriptions “MERCURY”, “GEMINI”, and “APOLLO” are separated by phases of the moon. Together, these design elements represent the efforts of the U.S. space program leading up to the first manned moon landing.

The Mint invited American artists to design a common obverse image that is emblematic of the Space Program leading up to the first manned moon landing. The Secretary of the Treasury selected the design from a juried competition. Gary Cooper of Belfast, Maine, created the winning design that adapts the well-known photograph of an astronaut’s boot-print taken by Aldrin. Cooper’s concept was adapted by Joseph F. Menna, who is now chief engraver at the U.S. Mint.

The reverse, convex design 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 Aldrin. The reflection in the helmet includes Armstrong, the United States flag and the lunar lander, Eagle. It was created by Phebe Hemphill, U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver.

“Our team was proud to be a part of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon by NASA’s Apollo 11 crew,” the U.S. Mint said in an acceptance statement for the two category awards. “Produced in 2019, the [coin] was the United States Mint’s first curved 5 ounce silver coin and represented a special achievement in the Mint’s technical capabilities.”

Sales surcharges of this coin and others in the series benefited the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

A virtual ceremony to honor all 2021 COTY winners will air in mid-March. Following is a list of the 2021 Coin of the Year category winners.

MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT COIN

Austrian Mint
100 Euro, Gold
Magic of Gold: The Gold of Mesopotamia

BEST CONTEMPORARY EVENT COIN

United States Mint
1 Dollar, 5-Ounce Silver
50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

BEST GOLD COIN

China Gold Coin Incorporation
100 Yuan, Gold
Art of Chinese Calligraphy

BEST SILVER COIN

United States Mint
1 Dollar, 5-Ounce Silver
50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

BEST CROWN COIN

Monnaie de Paris
10 Euro; Silver, Gilt, Rhodium
Paris’ Treasures, City of Lights: Eiffel Tower

BEST CIRCULATING COIN

German Mints
2 Euro, Bi-Metallic
30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

BEST BI-METALLIC COIN

Austrian Mint
25 Euro, Bi-Metallic (Silver, Niobium)
Artificial Intelligence

MOST ARTISTIC COIN

Monnaie de Paris
10 Euro, Silver
Fall of the Berlin Wall

MOST INNOVATIVE COIN

NumisCollect, Cook Islands
20 Dollar, Silver
Meteorites: Chicxulub Crater

MOST INSPIRATIONAL COIN

Royal Mint, Great Britain
50 Pence, Silver
Innovation in Science: Stephen Hawking

1 COMMENT

  1. How thrilling! I can still remember one hot summer night in July 1969 running around way after dark looking at the full moon and if you squinted your eyes just right you could just…maybe…see the American Astronauts on the moon. And Mom and Dad said for us kids to come in NOW and get ready for bed…until Dad said…Honey, Let them stay up and see it.

    And I did see it on a grainy black and white TV! I still remember Neil, Buss, and Mike orbiting on the Apollo 11 mission as they came in peace for all mankind. A lifetime moment of pride for many millions on a beautiful coin. An award well deserved!

    And all these years later, it’s the coin of the year. Well deserved!

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