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Apollo 11 strike ceremony held in Philadelphia

There was a first strike ceremony yesterday (Dec. 13) at the Philadelphia Mint.

Being struck with the appropriate fanfare were the new coins honoring the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Sales of the new coins will begin on the Mint’s website Jan. 24, which is almost six months before the actual anniversary date of July 20.

However, the coins can’t come soon enough as far as collectors are concerned.

They are excited.

They have good reason to be.

All four coins will be cupped like the 2014 baseball coins.

The footprint on the moon is on the inwardly curved side while Buzz Aldrin’s visor design is on the rounded side.

The visual impact of the designs is amazing, especially on the 5-ounce silver coin.

Mint Director David J. Ryder formally struck a coin at the ceremony.

What will be offered to collectors are proof and uncirculated versions of a $5 gold piece, silver dollar, and clad half dollar.

As a bonus, there will also be a 5-ounce proof silver dollar that will be offered.

This is the first five-ounce coin that will have a proof finish, reeded edge, and be cupped.

Surcharges on each piece will be $35, $10, $5, and $50, respectively.

To help boost sales, the Mint plans to issue a special two-piece half dollar set. Mintage will be limited to 100,000.

Featured in the set will be a 2019 commemorative half dollar and a clad 2019 John F. Kennedy enhanced reverse proof half dollar.

A household order limit of five will be in effect for this special set.

Obviously, the Mint is bracing for an onslaught of orders.

Artist Gary Cooper designed the common obverse of the commemoratives.

The Mint describes it this way: The obverse design features the inscriptions “MERCURY,” “GEMINI,” and “APOLLO,” separated by phases of the Moon, and a footprint on the lunar surface, which together represent the efforts of the United States space program leading up to the first manned Moon landing. Additional inscriptions include “2019,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “LIBERTY.”

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 Buzz Aldrin.

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

Inscriptions include “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” the denomination, and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

The obverse was engraved by Joseph Menna. The reverse was designed and engraved by Phebe Hemphill.

Half of the total surcharge income is authorized to be paid to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s “Destination Moon” exhibit; one quarter will go to the Astronauts Memorial Foundation; and one quarter to the Astronauts Scholarship Foundation.

My only wish is that I could have been present for the ceremony.

Unfortunately for me, it did not work out.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."