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Robbins Medallions: Fact and Fiction
by Howard Weinberger

Beginning with Apollo 7 and continuing through the current Space Shuttle missions, The Robbins Company has produced gold and silver commemorative medallions for America's astronauts. Purchased by the astronauts, the medallions were flown as mementos for themselves, their families and friends.

Due to NASA's own aversion to promoting the flight of souvenir materials, the true facts behind the 'Robbins Medallions' have been difficult to obtain. As a result, misinformation currently exists among collectors and historians about the true nature of these coins.

In the process of writing, "The Robbins Medallions: Flown Treasure from the Apollo Space Program" (now available) I had the opportunity to interview the former Sales Development Manager for The Robbins Company during the Apollo years. He was the liason between Robbins and The Astronaut Flight Office, and worked directly with many of the astronauts. With his assistance, much of the information previously unavailable will become available to space memorabilia collectors and historians.

Although the below information is not a complete account of the information I have learned, it may help clear some of the more popular misconceptions related to the Robbins Medallions. As I proceed further with the publication of my book, I hope to provide more information through collectSPACE.

Fiction:

Robbins Medallions were available for purchase by the astronauts as well as contractors and engineers related to each mission.

Fact:

The medallions were only available for purchase by the astronauts affiliated with the Astronaut Flight Office. NASA employees, contractors, politicians or collectors were never able to purchase any of the medallions.

The gold medallions were available only by the members of the crew the medallion commemorated; hence they are truly the rarest of any commemorative item aboard a mission. The gold medallions were also referred to as the "wives medallions" because many times they were presented to the wives as a very special memento.

Any of the astronauts could purchase the silver medallions for any of the missions, not just their own, at their own expense.

Fiction:

Only 38 sets of silver medallions were produced.

Fact:

There were many more silver medallions than gold medallions. Silver medallions could range from 80 to 450 aboard each mission as compared to 3 to 7 for the gold. Contrary to what has been published elsewhere, no complete "sets" were ever produced. Any sets that may exist would have been assembled one at a time by the individual astronauts purchasing them. As the minimum number of silver medallions flown per flight was 80, there are a possible 80 complete flown sets in existence.

Fiction:

All Robbins Medallions were flown. Conversely, only medallions marked with an "F" or serial number were flown.

Fact:

It is a common misconception that all Robbins Medallions were flown. It is also incorrect that an "F" was added after the serial number to confirm that a medallion was flown for Apollo 15 - 17. The regular practice of adding an "F" was adopted after the Apollo missions.

All silver medallions were to include a serial number. There were a few instances where one has surfaced without a number, although this is an exception, and must have been an oversight. It is not possible to determine if a medallion without a serial number was flown.

There have also been reports that the non-flown medallions did not include serial numbers. This is also false. All silver medallions were numbered. The flown medallions were the first to be numbered; the non-flown medallions continued the numerical sequence.

Fiction:

A medallion accompanied with certification from an astronaut was definitely flown.

Fact:

There have been medallions purported to have been flown, with certification from astronauts, that indeed were not flown. This is not an attempt by the astronauts to mislead anyone, but may be that they truly did not know. In most cases, after the mission, the astronauts were randomly given a number of medallions they had ordered without ever questioning the fact that they were flown.

Astronaut certification is important, however, to prove the provenance of a medallion.


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Howard Weinberger has been a collector for more than 25 years. His collecting interests are many, however space memorabilia and artifacts are one of his greatest passions. Weinberger has been cited as an expert on collecting trends on WJR Radio and has been a contributor to a number of books on collectible toy rings and premiums. His collections have been featured on FOX's "FX: The Collectibles Show" and in "Today's Collector Magazine."

His book, "The Robbins Medallions: Flown Treasure from the Apollo Space Program," is the definitive guide to flown commemoratives.