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House passes bill to create special curved coins for Apollo 11 Moon landing anniversary

Now we just need the Senate to get on board, too

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon
NASA/Neil Armstrong

The US may be getting some new legal tender soon that will showcase the most famous space event in history. The House of Representatives just passed a bill that would require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint special commemorative coins to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing, which occurred on July 20th, 1969. The next stop for the bill is the Senate, where it needs a unanimous vote in order to pass and move on to the president to get signed into law.

If that happens, we can expect some pretty unique coins from the Treasury that will put your average quarter to shame. The bill wants the coins to have a convex/concave shape, similar to the curved coins that were made a couple years ago to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The shape is meant to better display the design on the concave side of each coin and also “more closely resemble the visor of the astronaut’s helmet of the time” on the other side. That’s because the convex side of the coins will be a close-up of the famous ‘‘Buzz Aldrin on the Moon’’ photo — in which you can see NASA’s lunar lander and the American flag reflected in Aldrin’s helmet visor.

Meanwhile, the design for the concave side hasn’t been decided yet. The bill says that the Treasury secretary will hold a competition to pick a design that is “emblematic of the United States space program” leading up to the Moon landing. Once that’s settled, the bill calls for a specific number of coin denominations to be made, including no more than 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins, and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins. There’s even a stipulation for 100,000 $1 coins that will be about 3 inches wide and made of almost completely fine silver.

All of these coins will be legal tender, too, though you probably won’t want to go spending them at the grocery store. Not only will there be a limited amount, but you’ll have to pay a little extra to purchase them. For instance, one $5 coin will cost the face value of the coin, the cost of designing and making the coin, and a surcharge of $35. Those surcharge fees are supposed to go to the Smithsonian, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

The bill also says the coins should not result in any net cost to the US government, so hopefully the Senate will pass the bill without too much drama.