Mint XXI issued a superb celebration of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned flight into space last year that greatly impressed us. It was a design centred on a realistic portrayal of the man and the machine, Vostok-1. This was a Russian event and one that the country is unquestionably proud of, so we’ve waited impatiently for a Russian coin to mark the 60th anniversary. It’s here now.
The Central Bank of Russia doesn’t issue a huge number of five-ounce coins, so the fact this event gets a pair of them is quite significant, even if they are variations on the same design. Russia has eschewed realism for a more hopeful and symbolic celebration. The coin was designed by L.A. Evdokimova, and sculpted by A.N. Bessonov, and is focused on a winged human soaring upwards at seemingly great speed, towards a starfield with three of the major constellations highlighted, (Taurus, Leo, Sagittarius).
It’s a pretty design, especially in uncoloured form, aided by the inscribed message (‘12 АПРЕЛЯ 1961 г.’ (12 APRIL 1961) and ‘60 ЛЕТ ПЕРВОГО ПОЛЕТА ЧЕЛОВЕКА В
КОСМОС’ (THE 60th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT)), being well placed out of the way. The obverse is the usual Russian double-headed eagle, so no surprises there, but it’s always been one of the most striking standard designs out there anyway.
Two variants, both at five-ounces of sterling (0.925) silver in weight. There’s a proof version with a mintage of 1,000 pieces, and the blue-coloured effort with a mintage half that, both struck at the Saint Petersburg Mint. These would make a nice companion piece to the Mint XXI coin. Should be available now, although CBR coins aren’t the easiest to pick up. Site sponsor Munzdachs sells some Russian coins, so may be a good place to start.