US Coins

US Mint unveils 2019 Apollo 11 coin designs

Maine artist Gary Cooper was ecstatic when he learned from the U.S. Mint that his design is the selection for the common obverse in the four-coin Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program.

All four coins — a gold $5 coin, standard .900 fine silver dollar, a copper-nickel clad half dollar, and a 5-ounce .999 fine silver dollar — will be struck with a concave obverse and convex reverse using the technology introduced for the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins in 2014.

The four 2019 coins celebrate the first manned moon landing on July 20, 1969.

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Cooper’s design was selected from among 18 designs whittled down from 119 originally submitted by artists in a public design competition for the coin program. The competition submissions were reviewed by a jury comprising three members each from the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

Cooper’s winning design, sculptured by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph F. Menna, will be paired with the common legislated reverse designed and sculptured by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.

Cooper’s and Hemphill’s designs were officially unveiled to the public Oct. 11 during ceremonies held at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Participating in the unveiling were U.S. Mint Director David J. Ryder; Dr. Ellen Stofan, director of the National Air & Space Museum; Gabe Sherman, deputy chief of staff at NASA; and Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham.

Cooper’s winning design features the inscribed names of the space programs that, combined, represent the efforts of the United States space program leading up to the first manned Moon landing.

MERCURY, GEMINI and APOLLO separated by phases of the Moon, with a footprint on the lunar surface dominate the central field. The selected design is a modified version of Cooper’s original design submission — the original depicting inscriptions in different locations.

Hemphill’s reverse rendering features a design mandated under provisions of Public Law 114-282. The legislation also requires the reverse design to extend over the edge of the coin to the obverse.

The reverse design features 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 Aldrin. The reflection in Aldrin’s helmet includes astronaut Neil Armstrong, the United States flag, and the lunar module.

The 5-ounce silver dollar will be the first 5-ounce silver U.S. coin struck with a Proof finish, reeded edge and curved format. It will be issued only in Proof.

The gold coin has a maximum production of 50,000 coins, the 1.5-inch silver dollar is limited to 400,000 coins and the copper-nickel clad half dollar is restricted to 750,000 coins. The Proof 5-ounce silver dollar is restricted to a production run of 100,000 coins.

The Proof and Uncirculated gold $5 coins will be struck at the West Point Mint and bear the W Mint mark.

The 1.5-inch .900 fine silver dollar will be struck in Proof and Uncirculated at the Philadelphia Mint and bear the P Mint mark.

The Proof 5-ounce silver 3-inch dollar will also be struck at the Philadelphia Mint, with the P Mint mark.

The copper-nickel clad half dollar will be struck at the San Francisco Mint in Proof with the S Mint mark, and in Uncirculated finish at the Denver Mint with the D Mint mark.

Special set

The Mint will offer a limited-edition two-coin half dollar set restricted to a product limit of 100,000 sets and a household ordering limit of five sets.

The sets will contain a Proof 2019-S Apollo 11 50th Anniversary clad half dollar and an Enhanced Reverse Proof 2019-S Kennedy clad half dollar. The Kennedy half dollar will be struck at the San Francisco Mint with S Mint mark. 

The Enhanced Reverse Proof coin will be made available only in the set and not offered individually or as part of another packaging option, according to U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White.

The set celebrates the connection between President John F. Kennedy and the American space program.  Kennedy famously appeared before a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, to announce a goal of sending an American astronaut to the moon and returning him safely before the end of the decade, which led to the funding of the Apollo space program.


The purchase price of each commemorative coin will include a surcharge — $35 for each gold coin, $10 for each 1.5-inch silver dollar, $5 for each half dollar, and $50 for each 5-ounce silver dollar.

The net surcharges, after the U.S. Mint has recouped all of its production and associated costs, are to be divided between three recipients.

Fifty percent of the net surcharges are to be paid to the National Air & Space Museum to finance construction and maintenance of its “Destination Moon” exhibit and construction of a traveling version of the exhibit, and 25 percent each will go to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation and Astronauts Scholarship Foundation.

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