One Small Step: The Swiss Mint makes a rare foray into foreign events with a moon landing coin

The coins commemorating the epic 1969 moon landing continue to flow and they represent a great reminder that this wasn’t just a US endeavour.Much of the science and technology behind this ground-breaking mission originated in other countries, and as the Swiss Mint is gently reminding us, Switzerland was one of those. The University of Bern developed an experiment to test the existence of the solar wind – something it did successfully.

The coin design makes a nice change from the very popular footprint motif that has been used many times by other mints. Indeed, the back view of the capsule and Buzz Aldrin unfurling the solar sail are refreshingly different and give a new take on what was achieved by the Apollo mission. A fine example of a coin release expanding the general knowledge of an event – bringing to light details not widely known.

It’s a Swiss Mint release, so the use of the unusual 0.835 fineness silver is not unexpected. Pretty rare these days, we’re quite surprised they haven’t moved over to 999 silver by now, but tradition trumps fitting in, of course. As usual, two finishes with the same size and weight are available. A boxed version with a proof finish has a mintage of 5,000 pieces, with 250 of them available with a signed certificate (by the artist). Selling for 60 CHF (70 CHF signed), it’s considerably more expensive than the uncirculated coin, despite the identical metal weight and fineness. That variant, with its 20,000 mintage, sells for just 30 CHF – a significant saving. A version mounted into a gatefold folder is 10 CHF more, but there are only 1,000 of those.

We like this one. It’s a new take on the event and deserves consideration for that alone, but the design is a good one as well. Available now, the signed proof and carded uncirculated coins are already sold out, sadly typical of Swiss Mint issues where theose variants go out of stock incredibly quickly.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first humans to step onto the moon’s surface with the Apollo 11 mission on 21 July 1969. Before the astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin hoisted the American flag on the moon almost 50 years ago, he first hung up a Swiss solar sail. This so-called solar wind sail of the University of Bern was the only non-American experiment on board the Apollo 11. The “Solar Wind Composition Experiment” was developed by the Bernese physicists under the leadership of Professor Johannes Geiss of the Institute of Physics to verify the existence of the solar wind that was suspected at the time but could not be measured from earth. The simplicity and low weight of the solar sail had convinced NASA: it was made of a differently coated aluminium foil measuring 140 x 30cm, which was oriented as directly as possible into the sun to capture any solar wind particles. The foil was then analysed in the laboratory after returning from the moon. The simple, lightweight and successful experiment was repeated on all lunar missions except the last Apollo 17 mission and the failed Apollo 13 mission.

In honour of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing and the first highlight in space research at the University of Bern, Swissmint has issued a commemorative coin. The 20-franc silver coin was designed by Swissmint engraver Remo Mascherini. It is available since 9 May 2019 in the qualities ‘uncirculated’ and ‘proof’ in a presentation case at our online-shop or from selected coin dealers and some banks.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION 20 Francs CHF (Switzerland)
COMPOSITION 0.835 silver
WEIGHT 20.0  grams
DIMENSIONS 33.0 mm
FINISH Proof or B/Uncirculated
MODIFICATIONS None
MINTAGE 5,000 proof, 20,000 b/unc
BOX / COA Yes / Yes (proof)
SWISS MINT