The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969, will be the subject of several celebrations this year, and the United States Mint is joining in with a first-of-its-kind series of commemorative coins. For the first time the mint is issuing coins that have curved surfaces intentionally to highlight the unique images on each side. First, a concave obverse provides the appearance of an actual foot depression, re-shaping the typical flat coin blank, honoring Neil Armstrong‘s first step onto the lunar surface and the three NASA programs that resulted in the successful landing of men on the Moon. On the reverse, a convex surface echoes the rounded look and feel of astronaut Buzz Aldrin‘s space helmet visor as he was photographed by astronaut Neil Armstrong, in an artist’s homage to Armstrong’s famous photograph of Aldrin, also a selfie of Armstrong. The first photograph humanity saw of men on the moon was simultaneously of both Aldrin and Armstrong thanks to the famous snapshot.
The mirror-like proof coin versions showcase the obverse, highlighting the changing phases of the moon, and the textured lunar surface. On the reverse, the proof version gives the appearance of the actual, metallic sheen of the visor, and the shadow of Aldrin appears dark when held at the appropriate angle. The uncirculated versions carry the standard matte finish. Four coins are offered in this design: a $5 gold coin, a standard size $1 silver coin, a half-dollar clad coin, and a five ounce $1 silver proof coin. The obverse footprint design was created by Gary Cooper, whose design was selected in a juried competition. Mint sculptor-engraver Joseph Menna sculpted the design. The reverse design is by Mint sculptor-engraver Phebe Hemphill, who also sculpted the final design. Proceeds from sales of the coins will go to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit, Astronauts Memorial Foundation, and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
PCGS has graded and encapsulated a limited number of Apollo 11 50th Anniversary commemorative coins. The coins provided to PCGS are from Astronauts Memorial Foundation’s limited allocation of Launch Ceremony products and feature an insert with a hand-signed signature from Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise. Best known for his role in the Apollo 13 mission, Haise was also key to the development of the Apollo lunar lander and was the first man to pilot a space shuttle–the Enterprise–in 1977.
Children of the three Apollo 11 astronauts — Buzz Aldrin’s son, Andy; Neil Armstrong’s son Mark, and Michael Collins’ daughter, Ann participated in the US Mint’s first strike ceremony.
Find out more information about the details of each coin offered and ordering information at the US Mint website here.
If you’re curious about the unique curved design, check out this brief unboxing video we found on YouTube here, showing the effect of the curvature on the dollar proof version of the coin.