Flown in space with Neil Armstrong: rare St Gaudens gold coin goes to auction

Coin collectors with a taste for space occasionally get the opportunity to indulge themselves by buying in items such as silver Robbins medals which have taken a trip to the heavens.

However, that is a step outside the normal field of interest for most of them.  Such pieces are not true coins designed and cast with the intention of use as legal tender.

One of the lots on offer in Regency Superior's upcoming space, stamps and memorabilia sale may be more to their liking. This is a 1916 US $20 St Gaudens gold piece flown in space with none other than Neil Armstrong himself.

This wasn't from that fabled Apollo 11 mission however, but from another pioneering mission: Gemini 8. The flight conducted the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit, but is probably more famous as having suffered the first critical in-space system failure of a U.S. spacecraft.

Needless to say, Armstrong and his fellow astronaut (and fellow moonwalker-to-be) David Scott returned home safely.

St Gaudens coin flown with Neil Armstrong
Liberty from gravity... St Gaudens coin flown with Neil Armstrong


Few coins were documented as being taken on early missions, and this is believed to be the only $20 Gold piece to have done so.

An amazing piece of numismatic, as well as aviation history, the coin is encased in a 2¼" Lucite cylinder mounted on a 4"x3"x¾" wooden base with a silver coloured engraved plaque.

The plaque reads: 'This Coin Carried for George Franklin on Gemini Viii, First Docking Flight, 16 March 1966'. George C Franklin was the owner of the piece, and support engineer for the Gemini 8 crew.

Regency's space sale ends on October 14 in California and online.


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