Apollo 11 commemorative coin work wins Pella, Iowa, male award


A man from Pella has been recognized for his pioneering efforts to see Congress authorize a commemorative coin for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

Michael Olson received the US Mint Director’s Award earlier this year for proposing the coins to issue the coins in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing following the launch of the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969 and the landing from the Apollo lunar module on July 20, 1969, and returned to Earth on July 24, 1969.

The coin was released in 2019 and won several accolades, including the prestigious 2021 Coin of the Year award.

“What makes the 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 5oz Silver Coin unique is that it is the only US coin of this size to be minted concave / convex,” said Gosling. “In other words, it’s not flat.”

Michael Olson at the Philadelphia Mint in December 2018 for the Apollo 11 coinage ceremony.

Olson currently works at Lincoln Savings Bank in Grinnell as a commercial lender, leading government relations. He is a former student of the University of Northern Iowa and also a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Iowa National Guard.

In 2009, Olson was appointed by the Treasury Department to one of four congressional leadership seats on the U.S. Mint’s Citizen Currency Advisory Committee, which is responsible for recommending themes and designs for all American coins and congressional gold medals. It was in 2014, during his tenure at CCAC, that Olson came up with the idea for the play.

“Just before heading to Washington, DC, for one of my last Citizens Currency Advisory Committee meetings in 2014, I watched the movie ‘Apollo 13’ for what was probably the 20th time,” Olson said. “And it occurred to me that the 50th anniversary of the moon landing was coming in 2019. I suggested that the committee include this recommendation in the annual report and it was carried unanimously.”

The award received from the director of the Mint for Olson's work on the Apollo coin.

The journey was not that simple, however.

The Coinage Act of 1792 states that the US Mint requires Congress to pass a bill to authorize the manufacture of a coin. Previous bills to honor the 25th anniversary of the moon landing and the 50th anniversary of NASA have failed. Yet after persistent lobbying, the legislation, which was introduced in 2015, was passed without opposition and was enacted in December 2016.

“Being involved with the Iowa Bankers Association in their government relations efforts definitely gave me the tools I needed to get started,” said Olson. “But I never imagined how difficult it would be to do it.”

Michael Olson at the Philadelphia Mint in December 2018, holding one of the five-ounce Apollo coins after minting it on the press.

Four types of Apollo 11 coins were issued for proof (the first samples of a coin issue often purchased by collectors). The five-ounce coins were minted at the Philadelphia Mint and the remainder in San Francisco and Denver.

The coins, which by law could only be sold in 2019, generated more than $ 8 million in revenue. More than half of the funds went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for their Destination Moon exhibit; the remainder was used to support astronaut memorial and scholarship foundations.

Coins are no longer available at the Mint but can be purchased at amfcse.org. Collectors can also purchase versions signed by Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise, as well as those in the original government packaging.

Astronaut Memorial Foundation board members and staff stand in front of the press who minted the five-ounce Apollo coins at the Philadelphia Mint in December 2018.

Olson is currently Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to honor fallen astronauts and inspire future generations of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

Prior to Project Apollo 11, Olson had considered offering tickets to mint coins commemorating Route 66 – an idea he says he could pursue in the future. He also worked with the Western Branch Hoover Presidential Library to hold a ceremony commemorating the issuance of a dollar coin for Iowa’s only president, Herbert Hoover.

“On the horizon, in 2026, Iowa will be honored with another coin – this time part of the American Innovation Dollar Coin series. Iowa will play a role in recommending themes for this coin,” he said. -he declares.


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