Delays for 5-ounce silver Apollo 11 dollar
- Published: Feb 1, 2019, 6 AM
The Proof 2019-P Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 5-ounce silver dollars the Philadelphia Mint struck before the U.S. Mint put the coin on sale Jan. 24 will be shipped to customers in the progression in which orders were placed, Mint officials told Coin World.
United States Mint officials would not disclose how many of the 5-ounce silver coins were produced before sales were opened.
Inside Coin World: Most fruitful series for die varieties missing in action: The Lincoln cent series is generally the most fruitful for collectors of die varieties like doubled dies and repunched Mint marks, but not this month.
Within minutes of the noon Eastern Time launch of sales for the Apollo 11 commemorative coins and ancillary products, the 5-ounce silver coin with concave obverse and convex reverse went into backorder status. Customers placing orders once the backorder status went into force were greeted with the message: “The expected in-stock date is Wed May 01 2019.”
The primary reason for the delay in shipping the remaining coins is limitation of blank supply. Mint spokesman Michael White said orders have been placed for additional blanks for coins to be produced and shipped as they become available.
Sunshine Mint in Cour d’Alene, Idaho, is the U.S. Mint’s vendor for the 5-ounce coin planchets.
One press, two programs
Also contributing to the production and shipping delays is that the Proof Apollo 11 5-ounce silver dollar has to share production time with the 5-ounce silver bullion and Uncirculated versions of the America the Beautiful quarter dollars, which are struck on the same unique press at the Philadelphia Mint.
The 1,000-ton press is the Mint’s only press capable of striking the 5-ounce coins.
The U.S. Mint purchased the Gräbener press specifically for the America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver quarter dollars. While the series began in 2010, the first 5-ounce silver coins weren’t produced until 2011.
The Apollo 11 5-ounce silver dollars are being struck with working dies that are actually each master dies.
Most working dies used to strike coins are hubbed from a working hub, with each working hub capable of creating multiple working dies in a hubbing press.
For the Apollo 11 3-inch coin dies, after the final rendition with technical specifications was approved, the results were delivered electronically directly to a computer-controlled cutting machine that cuts the master dies. Those raw dies cut on the CNC lathe are manually finished and cleaned up to remove burrs and other errant metal before undergoing laser-frosting and Proof polishing of specific design elements. These master dies are then used to strike the Apollo 11 5-ounce silver coins.
Die life, the limit of how many coins a die can produce before it is retired, is short. White said die life is averaging 1,500 strikes per obverse die and 750 per reverse, and each coin is struck three times.
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