About the Apollo XI 50th Anniversary Coin Design
The Apollo XI 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act authorized 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 were struck at San Francisco, while Uncirculated half dollars were struck at the Denver Mint.
And perhaps the most distinctive trait of the coin is its concave obverse and convex reverse. Ron Harrigal, manager of the US Mint’s design and engraving division, said die preparation proved to be quite the challenge to execute the curved features. The Mins started with the 3-inch coin first and then adapted the findings to the smaller diameter coins.
Harrigal said each of the obverse and reverse dies were engraved individually on CNC cutting machinery and hand-finished, essentially making master dies into working dies, eliminating any hubbing.
The obverse design features inscriptions commemorating each of NASA’s Lunar missions, “MERCURY,” “GEMIINI,” and finally “APOLLO,” separated by depictions of phases of the moon in between each phase of NASA’s Lunar Missions to represent the lead up to the first manned Moon landing. A depiction of Neil Armstrong’s footprint on the lunar surface is the main feature of one side of the coin along with the additional inscriptions of “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “LIBERTY.” The obverse was designed by Gary Cooper, an artist and sculptor based out of Belfast, Maine. His design was chosen as the winner of the Mint’s design contest for the program.
The reverse side’s design features a representation of a close-up of the famous “Buzz Aldrin on the Moon” photograph taken July 20, 1969, which shows the reflection of the visor of Buzz’s helmet with Neil Armstrong, the United States flag, and the lunar lander in the foreground.
*Article Credit: United States Gold Bureau