The 50th anniversary of one of the greatest scientific and
technological achievements of all time occurs in 2019, and artists can
help the nation celebrate by submitting designs for the curved
commemorative coins to be issued to celebrate the event.
The United States Mint on May 1 opens the
design competition for the four 2019 coins
commemorating the 50th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 11, the
first manned lunar landing mission. Under the authorizing act, the
Mint seeks a single design to be used for the concave obverse of all
four noncirculating commemorative coins:
➤ A gold $5 half eagle of otherwise standard specifications, with a
mintage limit of 50,000 coins.
➤ A silver dollar of standard specifications, limited to a mintage
of 400,000 coins.
➤ A copper-nickel clad half dollar of standard specifications,
limited to a mintage of 750,000.
➤ A silver dollar of the same specifications as the current America
the Beautiful 3-inch 5-ounce .999 fine silver bullion coins, limited
to a maximum of 100,000 pieces.
The three standard coins are to be issued in both Proof and
Uncirculated versions, while the 5-ounce silver dollar is to be struck
only with a Proof finish.
The Mint’s contest will be open to will accept applications from
artists May 1 through June 29, 2017.
Artists will be notified on July 31 if they have been accepted to
submit designs. All designs submissions must be received by the Mint
no later than Sept. 8. A winner will be announced in 2018.
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The same obverse design and reverse design will be used on all four
coins in common, and the theme of the convex reverse design to be used
is dictated in the authorizing legislation. “The reverse design will
be developed within the United States Mint and is not part of this
competition,” according to the Mint.
About the designs
The law states, “The design on the common reverse of the coins
minted under this Act shall be a representation of a close-up of the
famous ‘Buzz Aldrin on the Moon’ photograph taken July 20, 1969, that
shows just the visor and part of the helmet of astronaut Buzz Aldrin,
in which the visor has a mirrored finish and reflects the image of the
United States flag and the lunar lander and the remainder of the
helmet has a frosted finish.”
Fellow astronaut and moonwalker Neil Armstrong shot the photograph.
The design competition, then, will be strictly for the common
obverse of the four coins.
According to the
official rules, “Obverse design submissions must
be emblematic of the United States space program leading up to the
first manned Moon landing; not include the name or depiction of any
living person, including an astronaut, even with permission. (Please
note that the reverse design may depict a living person because it was
so legislated by Congress); not include names, emblems, logos,
trademarks or other intellectual property associated with any specific
government, commercial, or private organization; be the artist’s own
original artwork; not include the artist’s name, initials, logo, mark,
or other identifier anywhere in or on the design; not be frivolous or inappropriate.”
In addition, “Artists may be responsible at any time for any
necessary modifications to a submitted design as requested by the
United States Mint. Changes may be requested for any reason, including
historical/technical accuracy, appropriateness, or coinability.”
The rules state that “required Inscriptions on Obverse Design” are:
“Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “2019.”
“Artists may choose to include additional inscriptions beyond the
required inscriptions,” according to the rules.
From the official rules
According to the official rules for the competition:
“The competition will proceed in two phases. In Phase One, artists
will submit a digital portfolio, consisting of three to five examples
of their work. An expert jury will review these portfolios and select
not more than twenty artists to submit one obverse design for the
proposed coins. The jury will ultimately select one artist’s design
for the obverse of the coins. The same design will be used on the
gold, silver, clad, and 5 ounce silver proof coin. The winning artist
will be paid $5,000 for his or her design. The winning artist will be
named as designer in historical documents, the Certificates of
Authenticity, and promotional materials, and the artist’s initials
will appear on the final coins (along with the initials of the United
States Mint Sculptor-Engraver who will sculpt the selected design).
“Artists are expected to distill the program’s design theme to its
essence, representing a complicated subject on a very small palette.
“In creating a coin design that will be translated into bas-relief
sculpture, artists must take into consideration the ideas of relief,
depth and negative space. Although the design will begin as an
illustration, artists must think three-dimensionally and consider that
curved coins in four sizes will bear the design. The obverse of the
coin will be concave, and the reverse of the coin will be convex.
“The United States Mint is seeking artists who can bring innovative
perspectives and who can effectively utilize symbolism to create
original artwork that is emblematic of the United States space program
leading up to the first manned Moon landing.”
In addition, invited artists will be paid a fee of $500 for their work.
Once designs are submitted, they will then be reviewed under
provisions of the authorizing act: “Proposals for the obverse design
of coins minted under this Act may be submitted in accordance with the
design selection and approval process developed by the Secretary in
the sole discretion of the Secretary. ... As part of the competition
described in this subsection, the Secretary may accept proposals from
artists, engravers of the United States Mint, and members of the
general public, and any designs submitted for the design review
process described herein shall be anonymized until a final selection
The rules provide specific requirements to the artists about the
presentation of the submitted designs and the artistic techniques that
are and are not permitted to be used.
In addition, the rules provide details about “Originality, Reference
Materials, and Third Party Rights.” In short, all artwork must be the
artist’s original creation; artists are discouraged from basing any
submission on pre-existing photographs unless the artist’s own work;
and artists are required to obtain all necessary third-party rights if
intellectual property of another individual is used in creating the design.
Baseball Hall of Fame
The Apollo 11 commemorative coin program is supposed to emulate the
2014 Baseball Hall of Fame coin program in that all four coins will be
concave/convex in shape. As stated in the law: “IN GENERAL.—The coins
minted under this Act 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 visor of the astronaut’s helmet of the time and the
obverse concave, providing a more dramatic display of the obverse
design chosen. ...”
Furthermore, “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.”
These special provisions would challenge the United States Mint’s
technical departments, especially for the 5-ounce silver dollar. While
the Mint now has experience in striking copper-nickel clad half
dollars, silver dollars, and gold half eagles with a concave/convex
shape, and years of experience striking 3-inch 5-ounce silver coins,
it has not produced a concave/convex 5-ounce coin.
The suggestion that the reverse design continue over the edge to the
obverse side would also require experimentation and testing by the Mint.
According to the measure, “The Secretary shall determine
compensation for the winning design under this subsection, which shall
be not less than $5,000.”
About the anniversary
As the Mint writes at the website page announcing details of the competition:
“On July 20, 1969, America and the world watched as Neil Armstrong
and Buzz Aldrin took mankind’s first steps on the lunar surface. This
unprecedented engineering, scientific, and political achievement, the
culmination of the efforts of an estimated 400,000 Americans, secured
our Nation’s leadership in space for generations to come. The national
goal set in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy was fulfilled when the
crew of Apollo 11—Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins—safely
returned to Earth on July 24, 1969. Nearly half a century later, the
United States is the only country ever to have attempted and succeeded
in landing humans on a celestial body other than Earth and safely
returning them home.”
Many coins, medals
The Apollo 11 mission was a stunning achievement and has been
recognized numismatically on many coins and medals issued by the
United States, other nations, and private entities.
Among American coinage, the Apollo 11 mission patch is the basis for
the reverse design of the Eisenhower and Anthony dollars.
A gold congressional medal was presented on Nov. 16, 2016, to former
astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael
Collins, veterans of the Apollo 11 mission, and to John H. Glenn Jr.,
the first American to orbit Earth. The New Frontier gold medals
recognize their contributions to the U.S. space program. Bronze
duplicates are available for purchase from the United States Mint.
The price for each of the 2019 program’s three standard coins are to
bear standard surcharges: $5 for the half dollar, $10 for the dollar
and $35 for the half eagle; and the 5-ounce silver dollar will bear a
surcharge of $50.
The surcharges raised through sales of the coins, once statutory
requirements are met, are to be distributed as follows: “(1) one half
to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s
‘Destination Moon’ exhibit, for design, education, and installation
costs related to establishing and maintaining the exhibit, and for
costs related to creating a traveling version of the exhibition; (2)
one quarter to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, for costs related
to the preservation, maintenance, and enhancement of the Astronauts
Memorial and for promotion of space exploration through educational
initiatives; and (3) one quarter to the Astronaut Scholarship
Foundation, to aid its missions of promoting the importance of science
and technology to the general public and of aiding the United States
in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by
providing college scholarships for the very best and brightest
students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, or