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U.S. Mint News: 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Design Contest Opens May 1

Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin Design Contest

By CoinWeek News Staff ….
Starting Monday, May 1, the United States Mint will begin accepting entries to its design contest for the 2019 Apollo 11 50th anniversary commemorative coin program. Signed into law on December 16, 2016 by President Barack Obama, the act authorizes the Mint to mint a $5 gold Uncirculated coin, a $1 silver Uncirculated coin, a half dollar clad Uncirculated coin, and a $1 silver Proof coin.

All four coins will be curved like the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins. Each of the Apollo 11 coins will share a common obverse and reverse, with the obverse being concave (curved in) and the reverse convex (lens- or dome-shaped).

And while the Mint is working in-house to create candidate reverse designs, it is the obverse that is the subject of the public competition.

Contest Schedule

But before we get to the rules, here is a timeline of important dates in the contest according to the U.S. Mint’s online rules:

  • Contest Open: May 1, 2017
  • Application Deadline: June 29, 2017
  • Artists Notified of Selection: July 31, 2017
  • Final Design Submission Deadline: September 8, 2017
  • Announcement of Winning Design: 2018

Rules & Eligibility

All citizens of the United States aged 18 years and older may participate – with the exception of Mint and Treasury employees, contest judges and the family members of these prohibited individuals. The Mint has the power to disqualify participants according at its own discretion, though plagiarism, copyright infringement and having a criminal background are the specified criteria.

In Phase One of the competition, candidates must complete an application from the Mint’s website and submit a digital portfolio of between three to five distinct examples of their artwork. Contestants will be judged according to their ability to use symbolism, their thematic versatility, their ability to draw figures and landscapes, and their inventiveness.

Portfolios are due by June 29. Artists who are selected to create obverse designs will be notified on July 31. They will also be paid $500 USD for their coin design. Right Transfer Agreements, which will be sent to the finalists along with their notification, must be signed and returned to the Mint.

No more than 20 artists will compete in Phase Two.

The commemorative obverse design must be “emblematic of the United States space program leading up to the first manned Moon landing”. It may not feature the names or effigies of living people (including the artist), nor may it portray the logos, emblems and other intellectual property of government or private organizations. The design must be the submitter’s original work, and must not be “frivolous” or “inappropriate”.

The Mint reserves the right to request that the artist make changes to their submission.

Aesthetically and legally, contestants should keep in mind that the inscriptions LIBERTY, 2019 and IN GOD WE TRUST must appear on the obverse.

Designs will be judged based on overall quality and creativity, symbolism, clarity, the appropriate amount of detail, composition, “effective incorporation of required text” and how well it complements the reverse design as outlined below.

All Phase Two submissions are due by September 8. The contest winner will be announced at a yet-to-be-determined date in 2018. They will receive an additional $5,000 in prize money.

For questions, or for specifics regarding submission format and terms and conditions, please visit the United States Mint’s dedicated website.

Common Reverse

The common reverse of each coin will be convex will portray a close-up of the iconic photograph of astronaut Buzz Aldrin with his dark visor down so that the lunar lander (the Eagle) and the American flag are visible in the reflection. His helmet should be frosted, while the reflective visor should have a mirror-like finish.

Once designs that conform to these expectations are submitted to the Mint, the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will all be consulted as the to final reverse.

A special section of the law conveys the “Sense of Congress” that the entire reverse design should wrap around and over the coin’s edge and interact with the obverse design, so all would-be coin designers may wish to keep this in mind as they begin to sketch out their initial concepts.

Program Specifications

The $5 coin will consist of 8.359 grams of .900 fine gold and have a diameter of 21.59 mm (0.85 in). The Uncirculated silver coin will be 90% pure and weigh 26.73 grams. Its diameter will be 38.10 mm (1.50 in). The clad half dollar will weigh 11.34 grams and have a diameter of 30.607 mm (1.205 in). The five-ounce Proof coin will be made of .999 fine silver and have a diameter of 76.2 mm (3 in).

Mintage limits are 50,000 pieces for the gold coin, 400,000 for the Uncirculated silver dollar, 750,000 for the half dollar and 100,000 for the silver Proof. Per usual, all four collector coins will be legal tender and considered numismatic items according to the federal tax code.


The following is a breakdown of the surcharges the Mint is charging per coin and where such premiums ultimately go. Of course, the underlying pricing depends on such factors as the spot prices of the respective precious metals and the costs relevant to the program’s production:

  • $5 Gold Uncirculated: $35
  • $1 Silver Uncirculated: $10
  • Half Dollar Clad Uncirculated: $5
  • $1 5oz Silver Proof: $50

Half of the surcharges will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s upcoming “Destination Moon” exhibit, which should open in 2020.

One-quarter of the surcharges will go to the Astronaut Memorial Foundation. This organization maintains the Space Mirror Memorial (also known as the Astronaut Memorial) at Florida’s John F. Kennedy Space Center.

The remaining 25% will go to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which awards college scholarships to exceptional students of the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Otherwise, the commemorative program is self-funding, with no burden placed upon the American taxpayer.

Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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  1. It stinks that there will not be one design illustrating a tracking station or telescope. I didn’t know about the competition, but without the tracking stations, here, and, in particular, in Australia… well.. it stinks, and it would have made a great-looking design. Phooey.


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