At the beginning of each month, I review the previous month’s activity in congress looking for numismatic nuggets that we hope will bring us new coins to collect. However, congress has been on their summer vacation since mid-July, right before the conventions.

There are two ways of looking at congress being away for at least seven weeks: they get how much vacation while the rest of us have to work? At least they aren’t doing anything to mess things up further.

If congress sticks to their own law of two commemorative programs per year, the next available year is 2019. Although most commemorative programs are fund raising programs, let’s have one that has some meaning. Maybe at some point, in between budget battles, congress will pass Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act.

The Apollo space program has to be one of the greatest accomplishments this nation has made at least in the 20th century. We were challenged by President Kennedy to make it to the moon and to return the astronauts safely back to earth. And in 1969, after getting beat at every milestone into space, Apollo 11 landed on the moon and safely returned their three astronaut payload to Earth before the Soviet Union could do so.

Apollo 11 was one of the most impactful memories of my youth, especially for that year. It only rivals rushing home from school (we had to walk in those days but I think I ran that day) to watch the last out of the 1969 World Series to begin that celebration!

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the bill in the Senate on May 19, 2016 (S. 2957) and Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) introduced the same bill in the House of Representatives on June 10, 2016 (H.R. 2726). Both bills have been referred to committee.

If congress passes either of these bills, it would create the following commemorative program:

  • Commemorative program issued in 2014
  • Required design elements:
    • Convex in shape “to more closely resemble the faceplate of the astronaut’s helmet of the time”
    • “The Secretary shall hold a juried, compensated competition to determine the design of the common obverse of the coins minted under this Act, with such design being emblematic of the United States space program leading up to the first manned Moon landing.”
    • Winning designer to receive no less than $5,000 for their design.
    • Common reverse design “shall be a representation of a close-up of the famous ‘Buzz Aldrin on the Moon’ photograph taken July 20, 1969, showing just the visor and part of the helmet of astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, in which the visor reflects the image of the United States flag, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the lunar lander.”
  • Mintage Limit: 50,000 $5 gold; 400,000 silver dollars; 750,000 clad half-dollar; 100,000 five-ounce silver proof dollars
  • Surcharges of $35 per $5 gold; $10 per silver dollar; $5 per half-dollar; and $50 per five-ounce bullion.
  • Payouts: 50-percent to Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit; 25-percent to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation; and 25-percent to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Considering how times have changed and we seem to have a different look on the space program, it would be wonderful to honor this achievement to remind everyone of the accomplishment.

“Buzz Aldrin on the Moon”

“Buzz Aldrin on the Moon” taken July 20, 1969

Image courtesy of NASA.

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