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Mint seeks Apollo 11 coin artists

A coin design competition begins May 1 to find a design for the four 2019 Apollo 11 anniversary commemorative coins.

I say design because it is literally a search for one design to be used on the obverses of all the commemorative coins.

The United States Mint is going to execute a common reverse internally with its own sculptor-engravers because the design itself is already mandated by the authorizing legislation.

As the Mint’s website expresses it, the reverse design is to “be 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, including the reflection of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the United States flag, and the lunar lander.”

I expect this will look gorgeous on the very large 5-ounce $1 silver proof coin and not so much on the nickel-sized $5 gold coin.

The other two coins, a clad half dollar and a silver dollar, will fall between these two sizes.

The relatively tiny gold reverse design will probably be something like what artists do to engrave your name on a grain of rice.

Let’s hope I’m wrong.

If it is paired with an emotive obverse design I expect that might make the $5 gold piece an appealing coin as well.

So I wish all artists good luck at performing their creative best.

All four coins will be curved like the National Baseball Hall of Fame coins were in 2014.

The baseball designs were very clever with the outward curve on the reverse showing the seams of a baseball and the inward curve was used to give the baseball glove design depth to make it even more lifelike.

For the 50th anniversary Apollo 11 coins the visor is on the outward curved reverse.

What will look good on the inward curved side paired up with the visor?

That is the artist’s challenge in a nutshell.

Naturally there are rules.

The first phase of the competition will last until June 29.

Artists must submit three to five designs each digitally.

A jury will then select 20 artists from this pool of talent to submit one design each for the Apollo 11 coins’ obverse.

They will be notified July 31.

The 20 artists will then have until Sept. 8 to submit their best shot.

What is chosen will be revealed in 2018 and the winning artist will be paid $5,000.

The artist will have his or her initials on the coins and will be named on historical documents, certificates of authenticity and promotional materials, according to the Mint.

Who knows? The artist might become famous.

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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