Lawmakers Considering Bill to Mint Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin
It is highly probable that the U.S. Mint will issue commemorative coins to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in 2019.
If so, Congress most probably will require a special joint committee for design review as they did for the World War 1 commemorative scheduled for 2018.
The World War 1 coin is the first design to be approved by a special committee since Congress created the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). It is also the first time a law has specified that the same artist must design both the obverse and the reverse and that plaster models rather than drawings are submitted for review from a juried design competition.
The World War 1 American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act signed by President Obama on December 16, 2014, directs the Secretary of the Treasury to mint a $1 silver coin to commemorate the centennial of America’s involvement in World War 1. The legislation specified that the Secretary must select the winning design picked by a special joint committee of six people—three from the CCAC and three from the Commission on Fine Arts.
The current legislation for the Apollo 11 coin contains a review mechanism that is similar to the World War 1 coin law. Whether this represents a trend for commemorative coin design or not remains to be seen.
As noted in the legislative findings accompanying the bill, Apollo 11 accomplished an ambitious national goal set forth in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. It further states:
At the height of the Cold War, the Apollo space program provided the United States and the free world with a powerful symbolic win, demonstrating the strength, ambition, and determination of the United States in technological and economic advancement, and securing our Nation’s leadership in space for generations to come.
As detailed by Coin World, the proposed bi-partisan legislation calls for the minting of unique coins, including 5-ounce .999 fine silver dollars struck on a 3-inch-diameter planchet, much like the 5-ounce America the Beautiful quarter dollars. The bill also requires the surface of the coin to be curved.
Pursuant to the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act, the coins “shall be produced in a fashion similar to the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame 75th Anniversary Commemorative Coin, so that the reverse of the coin is convex to more closely resemble the faceplate of the astronaut’s helmet of the time and the obverse concave, providing a more dramatic display of the obverse design.”
In another interesting and technically challenging design choice, the Apollo 11 coin legislation further states:
It is the sense of Congress that, to the extent possible without significantly adding to the purchase price of the coins, the coins minted under this Act should be produced with the design of the reverse of the coins continuing over what would otherwise be the edge of the coins, such that the reverse design extends all the way to the obverse design.
The bill specifies that the reverse design must feature “just the visor and part of the helmet of astronaut Edwin Eugene `Buzz’ Aldrin, Jr., in which the visor reflects the image of the United States flag and the lunar lander.” Artists, U.S. Mint engravers and members of the public will be invited to submit obverse designs, which will be selected by a juried committee.
Proceeds from the coin would support college scholarships for students pursuing science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degrees, educational initiatives that promote space exploration, the Astronauts Memorial that honors the astronauts whom have fallen in the line of duty, and the National Air and Space Museum’s new “Destination Moon” exhibit.
Interestingly, one of the bill’s sponsors, Florida Congressman Bill Posey, recently helped pass legislation in the House that aims to push space exploration further that the Apollo 11 astronauts likely ever imagined. Rep. Posey actually worked in the Apollo program as young man. The Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015 addresses the property rights to resources mined from asteroids and calls on the White House to facilitate the commercial development of asteroid resources. While the prospect of space mining may seem far off, the same was once said about landing on the moon.