By CoinWeek News Staff ….
On Thursday, December 13, the United States Mint held a striking ceremony for the 2019 Apollo 11 Moon Landing 50th Anniversary Commemorative silver and gold coins. Several invited guests–including the children of the first men to set foot on another world: Buzz Aldrin’s son Andy Aldrin; Michael Collins’ daughter Ann Starr; and Neil Armstrong’s son Mark Armstrong–made ceremonial first strikes of the five-ounce and regular weight silver Proof 2019-P Moon Landing commemoratives.
In conjunction with the ceremony, photographs demonstrating the artwork and curved shape of the new commemoratives were shared with the media by the Mint’s Director of Corporate Communications, Michael White. Only line art of the design was available before Thursday, having been revealed at a special ceremony on October 11, 2018 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC. Giving remarks at the unveiling were David Ryder, Director of the United States Mint; Dr. Ellen Stofan, Director of the National Air & Space Museum; Gabe Sherman, Deputy Chief of Staff for NASA; and Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7 astronaut.
You can watch the entire unveiling ceremony below:
The new photographs show off every detail of the new coins. Made in a “fashion similar to the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame 75th Anniversary Commemorative Coin“, according to the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (Public Law 114-282), each coin features a common concave obverse and a common convex reverse.
The obverse was designed by Gary Cooper, an artist and sculptor based out of Belfast, Maine. His design, featuring a footprint on the lunar soil, was chosen as the winner of the Mint’s design contest for the program. In addition to the $5,000 prize, the commemorative fulfills a lifelong dream for Cooper, who once wrote the Mint while he was a coin-collecting teenager, offering to help design what was then the new Eisenhower dollar. The Mint gently turned him down.
U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Joseph Menna adapted Cooper’s design for the Mint’s working dies.
In addition to the symbolic footprint, the inscriptions MERCURY, GEMINI and APOLLO–previous manned missions by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration that built up to the fateful lunar landing–arc clockwise along the top of the coin, separated by depictions of phases of the moon as seen from Earth. The date 2019, the mintmark, the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST, and the legend LIBERTY are also included. Coopers initials “GC” are located at the bottom left of the footprint, while Menna’s initials JFM can be found on the right under IN GOD WE TRUST.
As mandated by law, the common reverse features a representation of the famous photograph taken on the Moon of astronaut Buzz Aldrin facing the camera with his visor down, reflecting the lunar lander and the United States flag back to the viewer. On the new coins, Aldrin’s visor has a mirror-like finish, while the rest of his helmet is frosted. The inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM and the denomination are also present. It was sculpted by one of the greatest sculptor-engravers currently working at the United States Mint, Phebe Hemphill.
The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act authorizes the production of a $5 gold, a $1 silver, and a half dollar clad coin, all in Proof and Uncirculated versions. It also calls for the production of the five-ounce silver coin in Proof. The .900 fine gold coin, struck at West Point, weighs 8.359 grams and has a diameter of 21.59 mm (0.85 in). The 26.73 gram silver dollar, struck at the Philadelphia Mint, has a fineness of .999 pure silver (a first) and a diameter of 38.10 mm (1.50 in). The clad half dollar weighs 11.34 grams and has a diameter of 30.607 mm (1.205 in); Proofs will be struck at San Francisco, while Uncirculated half dollars will be struck at the Denver Mint.
As for the five-ounce silver Proof coin, it is .999 fine and has a diameter of 76.2 mm (3 in). Struck at Philadelphia, it is the first such five-ounce silver coin to be issued in the U.S. Commemorative series.
Mintages will be limited to 50,000 for the $5 gold, 400,000 for the Uncirculated silver dollar, 750,000 for the clad half dollar and 100,000 pieces for the five-ounce silver dollar. As usual, the coins in the commemorative program will be legal tender and treated as numismatic items under Title 31 of the United States Code.
Surcharges and Pricing
Below are the surcharges for each coin in the program (this is in addition to the Mint’s pricing, which is determined by factors such as the spot prices of precious metals and the recouping of the cost of production):
- $5 Gold Uncirculated: $35
- $1 Silver Uncirculated: $10
- Half Dollar Clad Uncirculated: $5
- $1 5oz Silver Proof: $50
Half of the surcharges collected will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit. One-quarter of the surcharges will go to the Astronaut Memorial Foundation, which maintains the Space Mirror Memorial (also known as the Astronaut Memorial) at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The other quarter will go to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which awards college scholarships to exceptional students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Beyond that, the Mint has yet to determine prices for the coins. The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary commemorative coin program will be issued only in the calendar year 2019, though as Director Ryder said at the design unveiling ceremony, the Mint is “expecting a sell out in less than 5 minutes”.
* * *