World Coins

Apollo 11 silver dollar gains world honors as COTY winner

The concave/convex Proof 2019 5-ounce silver dollar created by the United States Mint in a program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing won three awards, including Coin of the Year.

All images courtesy of Active Interest Media.

A U.S. silver coin issued in 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing is the overall 2021 Coin of the Year winner. The Proof 5-ounce, 3-inch diameter silver dollar with a concave/convex shape also secured top honors in two additional categories.

“In the first round of COTY voting by category, the United States Mint 5-ounce Apollo 11 dollar received twice as many votes in Best Contemporary Event as its closest competitor,” said Tom Michael, COTY coordinator, World Coin News contributor and market analyst.

“It was nominated again in the Best Silver Coin category, where the voting was much more competitive, so I think the event itself was the most significant factor in early voting. However, I am sure that theme, design and challenging production must all have factored into the judges’ decisions on the final vote for overall Coin of the Year, where voting was quite competitive,” Michael said.

The obverse, concave side of the coin depicts a footprint on the lunar surface. Inscriptions MERCURY, GEMINI and APOLLO are separated by phases of the moon. Together, these design elements represent the efforts of the United States space program leading up to the first manned moon landing.

Gary Cooper of Belfast, Maine, created the winning design that adapts the well-known photograph of an astronaut’s boot-print taken by Aldrin. Cooper’s concept was adapted by Joseph F. Menna, who is now chief engraver at the U.S. Mint.  

The reverse, convex design features a representation of a cropped portion of the famous “Buzz Aldrin on the Moon” photograph taken July 20, 1969, that shows just the visor and part of the helmet of Aldrin. The reflection in the helmet includes Armstrong, the United States flag and the lunar lander, Eagle. It was created by Phebe Hemphill, U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver.

“Our team was proud to be a part of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon by NASA’s Apollo 11 crew,” the U.S. Mint said in an acceptance statement for the two category awards. “Produced in 2019, the [coin] was the United States Mint’s first curved 5-ounce silver coin and represented a special achievement in the Mint’s technical capabilities.”

The Coin of the Year program, now in its 38th year, is an internationally conducted competition presented by World Coin News to recognize outstanding coin design and innovation worldwide. The 2021 program — sponsored by The Journal of East Asian Numismatics, NumisCollect and China Gold Coin Inc. — honors coins dated 2019 in 10 categories of competition as decided by an international panel of judges.

Other award categories and their winners include:
MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT COIN: Austrian Mint, 100 euros, gold, “Magic of Gold: The Gold of Mesopotamia.”
BEST GOLD COIN: China Gold Coin Inc., 100 yuan, gold, “Art of Chinese Calligraphy.”
BEST CROWN COIN: Monnaie de Paris, 10 euros; silver, gilt, rhodium, “Paris’ Treasures, City of Lights: Eiffel Tower.”
BEST CIRCULATING COIN: German Mints, 2 euros, ringed-bimetallic, “30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.”
BEST BIMETALLIC COIN: Austrian Mint, 25 euros, ringed-bimetallic, silver, niobium, “Artificial Intelligence.”
MOST ARTISTIC COIN: Monnaie de Paris, 10 euros, silver, “Fall of the Berlin Wall”
MOST INNOVATIVE COIN: NumisCollect, Cook Islands, 20 dollars, silver, “Meteorites: Chicxulub Crater.
MOST INSPIRATIONAL COIN: Royal Mint, Great Britain, 50 Pence, silver, “Innovation in Science: Stephen Hawking

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