Royal Mint sends David Bowie coin on a balloon ride
- Published: Dec 6, 2020, 7 PM
A coin for the newest rock musician to be honored in the Royal Mint’s ‘Music Legends’ collection wasn’t so much “Floating in a tin can, far above the world” as it was soaring into the middle range of the atmosphere attached to a balloon.
The Royal Mint sent a coin with David Bowie’s image into Earth’s mesosphere “within the last few weeks,” the Royal Mint said Dec. 4, ahead of the coin program’s Dec. 7 launch.
The Royal Mint is promoting the coin as the first UK coin in “space,” stating in a press release that, “To celebrate this launch, The Royal Mint sent the David Bowie commemorative coin into space. It is the first time that a UK coin has been sent into space. ...”
However, the height reached by the balloon does not come close to reaching the region considered to be “space.”
A new ‘star’ at a new height
Amy James, PR and social executive at the Royal Mint, said that the coin was mounted onto equipment that held it securely in place, and that, by the use of high altitude balloons, the coin was launched to a height of 35,656 meters (116,982 feet, or about 22 miles) “for 45 minutes before safely descending back to Britain.”
Space is generally considered to start somewhere in the range of 62 to 73 miles above sea level, with some authorities citing a height of 50 miles.
The promotional stunt was an effort by the Royal Mint to promote its latest stellar coin program, for the late rock musician David Bowie, who was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.
He had hits including “Starman,” “Life on Mars?” and “Space Oddity,” the latter which features the lyrics in the opening paragraph.
The coin sent aloft will now be offered as a competition prize for David Bowie fans via the Royal Mint’s Facebook page.
Clare Maclennan, divisional director of commemorative coin at the Royal Mint said, “In recognition of Bowie’s first hit single ‘Space Oddity’, we felt it was fitting to send his coin into space [sic] and celebrate the Starman in his own pioneering fashion. David Bowie’s music has inspired and influenced generations of musicians and we hope this commemorative coin will be cherished by fans around the world.”
A star is born
Born in Brixton, South London in 1947, Bowie started life as David Robert Jones.
By the time he was 19 he had taken his iconic name and began pursuing a career in pop music. Five days ahead of the Apollo 11 launch in July 1969, “Space Oddity” was released in the United Kingdom.
The single reached No. 5 in the charts, making it Bowie’s first success as a writer and performer.
Bowie’s influence can be seen and heard everywhere and he continues to inspire hundreds of millions of musicians worldwide.
The David Bowie commemorative coin follows coins honoring Queen and Elton John.
The latest coin celebrates rock’s definitive chameleon with a design inspired by an image of David Bowie from his time spent living and recording in Berlin. The coin’s design includes the iconic lightning bolt motif from Aladdin Sane, and captures Bowie’s career journey, according to the Royal Mint.
“Using the latest innovative technology and manufacturing techniques, the lightning bolt that features on a number of the special edition coins appears laced with stardust to create a glitter effect — elevating the stunning detail of the coin,” the Royal Mint said.
All of the coins feature the Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, and Clark also designed the Bowie reverse.
The Royal Mint is offering numerous versions of the Bowie coin.
The Brilliant Uncirculated copper-nickel £5 piece weighs 28.28 grams and measures 38.61 millimeters in diameter.
The coin is available in various packaging options, with three different colorful folders limited to 15,000 pieces each, priced at £15 apiece. Single coins without the packaging have no mintage limit and cost £13.
Four Proof .999 fine silver versions are being offered, all of which feature edge lettering reading THE STARS ARE NEVER FAR AWAY.
The half-ounce silver £1 coin weighs 15.71 grams and measures 27 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 13,500 pieces and retails for £65 each.
The 1-ounce silver £2 coin weighs 31.21 grams and measures 38.61 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 8,100 pieces and retails for £97.50.
Two-ounce and 5-ounce silver versions feature a high relief “stardust” finish on the thunder bolt in the design.
The 2-ounce silver £5 coin weighs 62.42 grams and measures 40 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 550 pieces and retails for £195.
The 5-ounce silver £10 coin weighs 156.295 grams and measures 65 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage of 500 pieces and retails for £520.
Five Proof .9999 fine gold coins are also included in the Bowie release.
The quarter-ounce gold £25 coin weighs 7.8 grams and measures 22 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 1,400 pieces and retails for £615.
The 1-ounce gold £100 coin weighs 31.21 grams and measures 32.69 millimeters. The coin features edge lettering reading THE STARS ARE NEVER FAR AWAY.
It has a mintage limit of 400 and retails for £2,425.
The 2-ounce gold £200 coin weighs 62.42 grams and measures 40 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 100 pieces and retails for £4,760.
The 5-ounce gold £500 coin weighs 156.295 grams and measures 50 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage limit of 60 pieces and retails for £11,815.
The kilogram gold £1,000 coin weighs 1,005 grams and measures 100 millimeters in diameter. It has a mintage of 11 pieces and retails for £72,195.
Two-ounce, 5-ounce and kilogram gold coins each feature a high relief “stardust” finish on the thunderbolt in the design.
For all details of the program, visit the special page on the Royal Mint’s website.
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