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Congress reaches for the moon

Is it blast-off time for the moon landing commemoratives?

A vote in the U.S. House of Representatives will be held this afternoon on legislation calling for coins commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 2019.

H.R. 2726 calls for cupped-shaped 2019 coins as the National Baseball Hall of Fame coins were in 2014.

A common reverse design will be of an astronaut’s helmet specifically based on a July 20, 1969, photograph of Buzz Aldrin.

Reflected on his visor were the American flag and the lunar lander.

To achieve this effect on the coins, the visor portion of the image would have a mirror-like surface while the rest of the helmet would be frosted.

Artistically, it sounds like a great idea.

It would work especially well on the largest coin authorized, a 5-ounce silver coin.

This piece specified to be a proof, has a face value of $1 and a mintage no higher than 100,000 pieces.

There are three other standard commemoratives also called for in proof and uncirculated.

Up to 50,000 $5 gold pieces can be struck, 400,000 silver dollars and 750,000 clad half dollars.

The 5-ounce coin has a diameter of three inches, which is double that of the silver dollar.

It should look dazzling.

For the obverse designs, the legislation calls for an artistic competition with a prize of not less than $5,000.

I expect artists will be able to be as clever about these moon-landing coins as they were for the baseball coins.

Surcharges will apply, as they do to all commemoratives, when they go on the market in 2019.

The surcharge amounts are $35 for the gold $5, $10 for the silver dollar and $5 for the clad half dollar.

For the huge silver 5-ounce coin, the surcharge would be $50.

Beneficiaries of funds would see half go to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit.

A quarter share each would go to the Astronaut Memorial Foundation and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Can Congress do this?

It’s on the schedule.

Let’s see what happens.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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