Working alongside Canada’s only hand-poured silver company, CCN has launched the third limited-edition silver rounder in an ongoing series that began three years ago with Canada’s sesquicentennial.
This year, CCN and John Masterson – an Ontario collector and the owner of Beaver Bullion – are marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which began with the launch of the Saturn V rocket on today’s date in 1969.
“I found the idea of the moon landing inspiring,” said Masterson, who’s a member of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association, Ontario Numismatic Association and Canadian Association of Token Collectors, among others.
“As a kid, you always dream of going to space, and I’m a big sci-fi fan, too.”
While it was a Saturn V rocket that launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969, the rocket depicted on the one-ounce silver rounder is a “cartoon-style” depiction of a childhood memory.
“It’s just a fun iconic image – something I remember as a kid – of a cartoon character flying into outer space,” said Masterson. “Again, I really love space, so I had a lot of fun with this piece.”
Also inspired by the Canadian contributions to Apollo 11, he said Canadians who previously worked on the cancelled Avro Arrow project later played important roles for the U.S.-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which led the mission.
“The coolest thing I find about the moon landing is the lunar module’s landing feet were made in Canada – the very first thing to land on the moon was Canadian,” he said, reiterating the mission’s relevance and importance to Canadian history.
Built by Héroux Machine Parts Limited (now known as Héroux-Devtek) in Longueuil, Qué., the spider-like landing gear legs not only allowed the lunar module to land on the moon but were also part of the launch platform allowing U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to reconnect with the main command module. Those legs remain on the moon at the Apollo 11 landing site in an area known as the “Sea of Tranquility.”
“Obviously, it’s an American achievement,” said Masterson, “but there was a lot of Canadian help in science and engineering.”
About a dozen Canadians, including James Chamberlin (1915-81), of Kamloops, B.C., and Owen Maynard (1924-2000), of Sarnia, Ont., had leading roles in the mission.
Maynard moved to the U.S. to work for NASA in 1959, after the Arrow’s cancellation, and went on to head the systems engineering division for the Apollo spacecraft program – effectively making him the chief engineer. He sketched early designs of the main Apollo command module and is credited as the person at NASA most responsible for the design of the lunar lander. He also served as chief of the mission operations division and was responsible for planning the sequence of missions leading to Apollo 11.
Another high-ranking Canadian aircraft engineer who left his home country to work for NASA in 1959, Chamberlin became the head of engineering for Project Mercury, the first U.S. human spaceflight program. He was also the project manager and chief designer for the Gemini spacecraft, which preceded Apollo. Later, for the Apollo 11 mission, he also helped determine the best type of spacecraft to transport the astronauts and was one of the first people at NASA to recognize flying directly to the moon wasn’t an ideal option. Instead, he favoured having a smaller landing module travel to lunar orbit attached to the main spacecraft, then descend to the moon’s surface and later reconnect with the main spacecraft. This approach, known as lunar orbit rendezvous, became fundamental to the Apollo program.
Tying in with the space theme, the rounder is struck with an antique finish to give it an appropriately dull appearance.
“Because it’s the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we wanted to make the rounders look like little moons,” said Masterson, who added the first two pieces in the series are “shinier” than the new rounder, which called for “blackness and darkness” in its design.
“If you photograph them all in a pile, it looks like a pile of rocks.”
LAST OF A TRIO
The “Moon Landing” silver rounder will “probably be the last one of that style,” Masterson said, adding the engraving will be updated on future pieces issued for CCN.
“This style of coin was made with reverse letter and number stamps stamped into a steel die, and the maple leaf on the CCN logo was done on a medieval punch-style tool.”
On old medieval coins, minters would use a series of lines and wedges to create the image, said Masterson, who added this was the first style of die-making he learned about three years ago.
Future pieces will have “nothing punched,” Masterson said, “to give us more latitude and ability to play with the design.”
This third piece – like the previous two – has a mintage of only 150, bringing the total number of CCN rounders to 450.
Each piece is struck in .999 silver; weighs at least one troy ounce (31.1035 grams); and has a diameter of about 31.75 millimetres.
Each of the 150 one-ounce silver rounders is individually numbered. The rounders will first be offered to individuals who purchased the previous rounders so they can receive the matching serial number. Any remaining rounders will be made available to the public. The cost of the limited-edition rounder remains at $49.95, which includes standard shipping.
Only phone orders are currently being accepted; please call 1-800-408-0352 to place an order, or to reserve any unclaimed numbered rounders.