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Armstrong Air & Space Museum marks 50 years with new medallions

March 10, 2022

— New, limited edition medallions mark 50 years since astronaut Neil Armstrong took a few small steps into history.

No, not those small steps — his famous "giant leap" to become the first person to walk on the moon took place three years earlier — but rather Armstrong's first time entering the museum bearing his name. The Armstrong Air & Space Museum is celebrating its first half century serving as a tribute to the world's first moonwalker and a monument to Ohio's contributions to aviation and space exploration history.

The museum, which is located in its namesake's hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, partnered with Osborne Coinage, America's oldest continuously operating private mint, to strike the limited edition medallions that commemorate five decades since its doors opened to the public on July 20, 1972.

"For 50 wonderful years, we have endeavored to ignite imaginations and inspire visitors to see themselves as tomorrow's explorers, working to solve problems in the world today with courage and curiosity for the unknown," Logan Rex, curator and communications director for the museum, said in a statement issued by Osborne Coinage on Thursday (March 10). "We strive to continually connect with recurrent visitors throughout our community and pull in new pilgrims with exciting programs and engaging educational environments."

Struck in brass and silver, the front of the new medallions depicts the entrance to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum — a moonlike sphere embedded in the surrounding grounds reflecting the sentiment and support of the community at the time of the first lunar landing. "The groundbreaking achievement of the hometown hero is also symbolized through the visual representation of a prolonged pathway, pointing patrons to the monument," the Osborne release read.

Each step toward the futuristic "moon base" is meant to represent the challenge of successfully traveling to the moon and back.

On the back of each medallion is emblazoned "Fifty Year Anniversary," serving as a reminder of how long the museum has been welcoming visitors from around the world. The "50" is embellished with a spherical symbol surrounded by stars to represent spaceflight, as well as the Apollo 11 mission's destination of the moon.

The years "22" and "72" enclose the central "50" on a receding ribbon, adding to the design on the reverse.

"The artistry and precision found in this round's details demonstrate the selective skill and craftsmanship Osborne prides itself in producing," said Gibson Olpp, marketing manager for Osborne Mint and Osborne Coinage. "Projects like these enable us to be part of history in the making."

The silver medallions are each one-ounce .999 solid silver rounds that measure 1.5 inches (39 mm) in diameter with a reeded edge. The brass version shares the same dimensions.

The staff at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum worked with Osborne to time the medallions' release with the anniversary of Armstrong's lesser known flights on the Learjet 28. The first of the "Longhorn" business jets was flown by the astronaut and, now restored, it is set to become part of the museum's collection during the festivities planned for the 50th anniversary this summer.

Only 250 silver and 500 golden-style brass coins are being offered for sale. The silver version comes with a felt case imprinted with the Armstrong museum's logo on the interior of the lid. A protective container is included with both versions for preservation, as well as presentation.

The medallions are available for purchase only through the Armstrong Air & Space Museum's gift shop, either in-person or online. The silver coin is priced at $85, and the golden brass coin is $10 each.

The 50th anniversary medallions are the second collaboration between Osborne Coinage and the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. The two organizations worked together previously on a medallion commemorating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 moon landing in 2019. Long sold out, that release served as a fundraiser, providing resources for the City of Wapakoneta's 2019 "First on the Moon" celebration.

In addition to the new medallions and the dedication of the Learjet 28's display, the Armstrong Air & Space Museum is celebrating its 50th with a monthly speaker series, a new exhibition dedicated to its history and a new 360-degree virtual tour of its collection.


New limited edition silver and brass medallions created by Osborne Coinage commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (Osborne Coinage)

The exterior of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, was designed to look like a moonbase as envisioned in 1972. (Launch Photography/Ben Cooper)

Artwork for the Armstrong Air & Space Museum 50th Anniversary medallions. (Osborne Coinage)

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