US Coins

Neil Armstrong’s personal Apollo 11 gold medal sells for $2 million

The personal gold medal that astronaut Neil A. Armstrong carried in his baggage during his July 1969 journey to the surface of the moon sold at auction for more than $2 million on July 16, 50 years, to the day, after the Apollo 11 crew blasted off on their epic journey.

The medal realized $2,055,000 in the sale conducted by Heritage Auctions. It was graded Mint State 67 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. It was part of the firm’s auction of items from the collection of the Armstrong family.

It was struck under official sanction by Robbins Co. of Attleboro, Massachusetts. These debuted during the Apollo program. Beginning with the first manned Apollo flight, Apollo 7, mission crew members contracted with the Robbins Co. to create a series of gold and silver medals. The Robbins medals were ordered and paid for by NASA crew and staff, who were allowed to buy medals for any mission, regardless of their participation in the mission. Several of each Robbins medal were placed aboard the Apollo spacecraft during a mission.

The Armstrong gold medal is one of three for Apollo 11. Astronauts Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin also held personal examples of the medal during the mission. 

According to the lot description for the gold medal just sold, “This 28mm medal was one of only three specially-minted gold medals flown aboard Apollo 11, one for each member of the crew: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. The obverse depicts Collins’ early and original concept for the mission insignia with the eagle carrying an olive branch in its mouth. NASA thought the sharp, open talons of the eagle looked too ‘warlike’ and the olive branch, representing peace, was moved to the claws. ...”

The price realized for the gold medal greatly exceeded prices brought by earlier Apollo 11 medals in silver. Heritage adds, “Heritage has offered silver Robbins Medals from Apollo 11 since our first Space Exploration auction in 2007 where they sold in the $15,000 to $20,000 price range. Since that time, their desirability, and the addition of more collectors who realize their significance as beautiful relics of such an important event in human history, has driven the prices up to as much as $112,500. This was an MS66 NGC example in our November 1, 2018, auction of The Armstrong Family Collection Part I. For reference, there were 450 silver medallions flown in the Command Module Columbia, but only three gold examples were taken and they actually went to the surface of the moon in the Lunar Module Eagle. We have it on good authority that the other two Apollo 11 Gold Robbins medals (originally belonging to Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) are firmly ensconced in private collections as we expect this one to be. ...”

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