A conversation was started here on CCF back in January about the Australia-US Apollo 11 coin set, but little was known about the set at the time so the thread asked more questions than it answered. (You can read the original discussion here: USM-RAM Joint Issue.) So, I thought I would start a new thread that included images and details that weren't available in January.
Many countries have issued coins with an Apollo 11 / First Lunar Landing theme. Some have a genuine connection to the event (e.g., Australia, Spain, Canada), but many do not (e.g., Niue, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands).
The Australian link to the Apollo 11 mission is a strong and important one. Australia hosted multiple tracking stations for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the early years of the US space program. At the time of the Apollo 11 flight, NASA tracking stations in Australia were located at Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla; Australia's CSIRO Parkes radio telescope was also a primary player for the Apollo 11 mission. For Armstrong's first steps and activities on the moon, the Australian antenna at Honeysuckle Creek and the California-based Goldstone antenna provided TV signals that were broadcast to viewers around the world; the quality from each was generally poor. About nine minutes into the historic lunar walk, the TV signal was switched to the one being transmitted by the Parkes radio telescope. It provided a much higher-quality signal and was used for the balance of the walk; 600+ million people were able to watch good-quality lunar footage thanks to Parkes. (FYI: CSIRO is an acronym for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, it is Australia's national science agency.)
For this reason, I consider the Royal Australian Mint (RAM) Apollo 11 Moon Landing commemorative coins to be perfect companions to the US Mint Apollo 11 coins - especially the coin included in the official Australia-US two-coin set. The coin in question is a silver proof $5 domed coin; it is paired with the CuNi-clad domed Apollo 11 half dollar coin from the US.
The set has a maximum production of 10,000 with the Australian silver proof $5 coin being available only in the set; no individual coins are/were available from the RAM. The design is also available, however, on an individual black nickel-plated $5 silver proof coin ($150 AUD; 10,000 mintage) and a gold $100 proof coin ($2,795 AUD; 750 mintage); the nickel-plated silver coin features the same color enhancement as the standard silver coin, the gold coin does not feature any color.
The two-coin set is listed at $195 AUD on the RAM web site; this converts to ~$135.00 USD. Shipping costs from Australia add $25 AUD to the set's total cost, though I have seen occasional "free international shipping" offers on the RAM site since the set's release. Stateside, I have seen the set offered by APMEX
and JM Bullion
plus on eBay for prices in the range of $135 to $200.
While I'm not generally a fan of colorized coins, I have to say that the selective use of color on the Australian $5 coin is attractive and effective - I think the coin looks great! It's nicely designed and nicely struck on its domed planchet. The design is the work of Adam Ball, a designer/sculptor working at the RAM. I also think the set is a great commemorative of the incredible technical accomplishments and international cooperation that were the hallmarks of the Apollo 11 mission.Image courtesy of the Royal Australian Mint, http://www.ramint.gov.au
The Australian coin's obverse features the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope - oversized - on earth pointing toward the moon. In a small circle at the 6 o'clock position is the Ian-Broadley portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The earth, moon, telescope and Queen's portrait are frosted in contrast to the brilliant background. The background field features a partially visible excerpt of the full transcript of the dialogue between Neil Armstrong, Mission Commander and first man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot and second man on the moon and Bruce McCandless who was the EVA CapCom (Extravehicular Activity Capsule Communicator) based in Houston.
As the full excerpt is not visible on the coin (certain portions of the text run off the edges or go behind other design elements) I decided to do a bit of research and reconstruct the full exchange; McCandless' part of the conversation was omitted on the coin but is included below. Almost all of the dialogue presented on the coin was spoken by Neil Armstrong.[Armstrong] "I'm going to step off the LM now. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Yes, the surface is fine and powdery. I can kick it up loosely with my toe. It does adhere in fine layers, like powdered charcoal, to the sole and sides of my boots. I only go in a small fraction of an inch, maybe an eighth of an inch, but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine, sandy particles."
[McCandless] "Neil, this is Houston. We're copying."
[Armstrong] "There seems to be no difficulty in moving around as we suspected. It's even perhaps easier than the simulations at one-sixth g that we performed in the various simulations on the ground. It's actually no trouble to walk around. Okay, the descent engine did not leave a crater of any size. It has about one foot clearance on the ground. We're essentially on a very level place here. I can see some evidence of rays emanating from the descent engine, but a very insignificant amount. Okay, Buzz, we ready to bring down the camera?"
[Aldrin] "I'm all ready. I think it's been all squared away and in good shape."
[Aldrin] "Okay. You'll have to pay out all the LEC. It looks like it's coming out nice and evenly."
I noticed that the wording on the coin is slightly different than the transcript I reviewed. To the left of the antenna you can see the phrase "It's absolutely
no trouble..." The Apollo 11 transcripts I have read present the phrase as "It's actually
no trouble..." A potential transcription error on the coin? Image courtesy of the Royal Australian Mint, http://www.ramint.gov.au
The reverse of the coin reverse depicts an Apollo 11 astronaut with the lunar module, the Eagle
, behind him on his left; the Earth is presented in full-color in the sky in the background. Not surprisingly, the continent / country of Australia is the dominant geographic feature seen on the earth.
As one of the supplementary collections to my core US commemorative coin set is world coins that commemorate US history, the Apollo 11 releases by the Royal Australian Mint (RAM) were a perfect fit for me. Purchasing the official two-coin, joint-issue of the US Mint and Royal Australian Mint was an easy decision. I would highly recommend it!
Hope you enjoyed the read!
Following are actual images of my set.Australia $5 Silver Proof Coin: Obverse (Concave side)Australia $5 Silver Proof Coin: Reverse (Convex Side)Joint RAM-USM Apollo 11 Set: Outer Box, FrontJoint RAM-USM Apollo 11 Set: Outer Box, BackJoint RAM-USM Apollo 11 Set: Package InteriorDual COA From Set: Front PanelDual COA From Set: Inner Left PanelDual COA From Set: Inner Right PanelDual COA From Set: Back Panel