New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Designs Reviewed by CCAC

I attended the October 26th meeting of the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee in the Mint’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., and witnessed the members’ discussions of the obverse and reverse designs for the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal. The medal honors the space missions of John Glenn aboard Mercury Atlas 6 (first American to orbit the Earth) and of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins aboard Apollo 11 (first and second people to set foot on the Moon, and the pilot of the mission command module).

Obverse Design Candidates (click for larger version)

There were a total of four different obverse design candidates and seven different reverse design candidates provided by the United States Mint.

Michael Olson liked how the two missions were visually separated on obverse design 1, and expressed support for reverse design 2, citing its “nice artwork.” He also favored obverse design 3. Michael Ross said that obverse design 1 depicted a look of “sacrifice and courage in the face of great risk.”

Heidi Wastweet commented that these designs provided a higher level of quality than has been seen in the recent past. Of the first obverse design, she said that the expressions on the astronaut’s faces were “very fitting”, but expressed dislike of both the display of teeth on obverse design 4, and of seeing the back of the astronaut on reverse design 7.

Donald Scarinci expressed excitement about reverse design 2, with its incorporation of the edge into the medal itself. He also commented that  the text “Act of Congress 2009” should be removed from reverse design 1. He spoke highly of reverse design 2: “if the hardware were removed, I’d be in Heaven.”  In Mr. Scarinci’s opinion, the use of the natural arc of the Earth against the Moon was one of the highlights of this design.

Reverse Design Candidates (click for larger version)

Dr. Doreen Bolger echoed Ms. Wastweet’s statements regarding obverse design 1, but would like the texture removed from that design.

Chairman Gary Marks said that obverse design 1 “succeeds”: the others “do not separate the missions. He said that reverse design 3 “most successfully separates” the missions, but that reverse design 6 appeared to reduce the significance of Glenn’s mission, and showing people from behind as in reverse design 7 is “not ideal.”

Roger Burdette expressed support for obverse design 1, but said the other three resembled “gift shop items.” He did not favor any of the reverse designs, stating they “lacked imagination.”   He also noted that the use of the phrase “We came in peace” was missing the second half, “For all mankind.”

Rev. Dr. Richard Meier followed his fellow members’ support of obverse design 1.   He also said that reverse design 7 reminded him of the Florida State Quarter, but liked reverse design 3, as it shows the astronauts “in action.”

Michael Brown remarked that obverse design 1 has the two crews facing in opposite directions, a clear distinction of who was on which mission. He also noted the absence of Michael Collins, and the Apollo command module he piloted. While the lunar lander was on the Moon, Collins was the first person to experience complete detachment from the rest of humanity during his trip around the far side of the Moon. Reverse design 1 was a “better design” in Mr. Brown’s opinion, but it needed to exclude the hardware, and reverse design 7 was “too crowded.” He concluded with a request that the Apollo command module be added to the hardware depicted on the medal, to appropriately honor Collins’ work on the mission.

The design votes were as follows: For the obverse, design 1 was the clear winner, receiving 25 of the possible 27 votes and the committee’s recommendation. The other three designs received 4, 3, and 3 votes, respectively. The reverse design vote was not the runaway that was seen with the obverse. Design 2 received 20 out of 27 votes and the recommendation, whereas design 1 and 3 through 7 received 8, 12, 3, 1, 0, and 0 votes.

CCAC Recommendations for New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Designs

There were four motions made after the formal vote. The first was to modify obverse design 1 to include the mission names and date that were included on obverse design 3. With two yea’s, six nay’s and one abstention, it failed to pass. The second motion was to omit the phrase “Act of Congress 2009” from all designs: it is a tradition of Congressional medals, but not a requirement. That motion passed on a 5-to-4 vote. Third was to identify the missions by name on reverse design 2. That motion passed with a clear 7-to-2 vote. The final motion was to add “For all Mankind’ to the reverse designs where it was used: it passed on a 8-0 vote with 1 abstention.


  1. Joe says

    Okay…just curious about something?

    Why is John Glenn on the coin? I realize he was the first American to orbit, but why not Alan Shepard who was the first American into space?

    Could it be that John Glenn was a famous democrat senator and we want to placate the democratic party and the PC police are in charge of these coins? The other three make sense.

  2. Joe says

    As one parting note, Glenn did only one relevant trip into space (not counting his political trip and expense to our country as a passenger on the space shuttle as an old man). Alan Shepard was the first American into space AND the commander of Apollo 14 becoming the fifth person to walk on the moon. The guy had loads of awards and citations related to his work as a space pioneer.

    John Glenn was the first to orbit the Earth and was a democrat politician for most of his life.

    Okay…let’s put the lifetime politician on the coin. The Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee is a PC joke!

  3. says

    Strictly speaking, the committee only has advisory power over the designs that the Mint provides them for review.

  4. Indentured_Servant says

    What a crock! Is it John Glenn on a coin honoring the Apollo 11 mission or the Apollo 11 crew on a coin honoring Mercury 6 mission? Politics in coin and medal design sucks!
    (rant on)
    I don’t want to take a single thing away from Mr Glenn but his Shuttle flight was also a crock. The stated purpose for choosing him was “to study the effects of space flight on the elderly.” Besides him, who else is going to fly in old age? A much better candidate was Franklin Story Musgrave who had been an astronaut since 1967 and was on active flight status at the time of Glenn’s flight. Besides being a medical doctor, Musgrave was arguably the most highly educated of all astronauts to date. Musgrave could have easily remained on active flight status participating in flights every year or two. At the time of Glenn’ shuttle flight they had 31 years of continuous health data on Musgrave and could have easily acquired 20 more.
    (rant off)

    Apart from the mixing of flights I do like the quality of the designs. I prefer O-01 and R-03.

  5. Joe says


    I understand; however, they should have recommended against all the designs due to the political overtones. I like the idea and even some of the designs, but the PC selection of Glenn (who I agree was a space pioneer…just not as relevant as Shepard, Lovell, etal.) is (once again) over the top. Perhaps the designers (and even the CCAC) need to start reading their history books instead of learning everything they know out of the liberal New York Times.

  6. Richard Stinchcomb says

    I also find the inclusion of John Glenn very controversial. It is an either/or situation. Either use what applies for one specific purpose, or make different medals for each purpose. In terms of a specific meaning, absolutely none of these coin designs convey a universal concise meaning. This is why everyone is questioning why John Glenn is on these coin designs. Either, you have John Glenn as the first American to orbit the Earth, or you have Neil Armstrong as the first person to touch the surface of the moon. Neil Armstrong is a pioneer, however the same cannot be said for John Glenn since he was not the first person to orbit the Earth. The first person to orbit the Earth was a Russian. This is why the designs have no direct correlation in meanings and therefore make no sense.

    -Richard Stinchcomb

  7. Joe says

    Once again, there will never be any true “Citizen’s” representation for coin design. The machine will just keep putting out what celebrates political correctness (i.e. liberal heroes) at the expense of “historical correctness.”

    Anyone know when al gore or obama’s coins are coming out for “winning” their Nobel prizes? A coin I recommend the CCAC consider would be one with George Washington and Karl Marx on it (a man representing our country’s founding and a man representing our country’s future – as desired by the libs)?


  8. TaxMeToTheEnd says

    I wonder what John Glenn thinks of the Democrats destroying NASA, I see Obama has just canceled another space mission again.

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