Comet Kohoutek 1973

The arrival of the comet Kohoutek generated increased expectations. The media quickly proclaimed it to the comet of the century. The exaggerated expectations did not materialize, however, the attraction fell away. Despite this, many medallion were made.

On the obverse of the medal issued in Germany the Mercury’s, Venus’, Earth’s and Mars’, and the comet's orbit around the Sun can be seen, at certain times their position along the are marked. The legend "BAHN DES KOMETEN KOHOUTEK 1973 IM SONNENSYSTEM" also refers to this. On the reverse  an ornate astrolabe and the inscription "ASTROLABIUM A· D· MDXXXII" that is, the year 1532 is shown.

Kohoutek 1 reverseKohoutek 1 obverse

On the obverse of another medallion the halfleft-facing portrait of Luboš Kohoutek is visible. Perhaps this is the only medal, on which the Czech explorer astronomer's portrait can be found. On the left, astronomical telescope, on the right stylized image of a comet. Below the observatory's name "HAMBURG OBSERVATORY." The history of the observatory began in Hamburg in 1802. In 1906, due to the increasing light pollution it was moved further out into Bergedorf where it operates today. Kohoutek worked in the observatory until his retirement in 2001. The reverse shows the Earth with the American continent turning towards us. From this fact and the English legend it can be concluded that the medal was issued in the United States. The comet is visible above the Earth. Legend around: "COMET KOHOUTEK 1973 - 74" and "COMET OF THE CENTURY" is displayed.

Kohoutek 1 reverseKohoutek 1 obverse

The other medals and bars were surely made in the United States. Some of them were variety of sizes and materials. The first is a silver bar displays the fact that the comet was in perihelion at 28 December 1973 so it could be treated a real Christmas and New Year's comet. On the obverse Santa travels on the comet instead of reindeer sleigh. Behind him the crescent Moon in front of him the Earth can be seen with the North American continent. Above a legend: "MERRY CHRISTMAS 1973". At the bottom "VIA COMET KOHOUTEK" is displayed. On the reverse the comet has been shifting away and a child sits on with a trumpet. The legend above also changed: "HAPPY NEW YEAR 1974". Below the inscription is identical to those on the obverse. On the right side of the coin the technical data can be seen, that it was made of one ounce 999 fine pure silver.

Kohoutek 2 reverseKohoutek 2 obverse

The other bar was made of  gilt bronze. On the obverse the comet is hurtling through the space and the Earth can be seen turning the American continent towards us. The inscription beside the comet's name and the date in 1973 includes "SKY SPECTACULAR" text. The back side is rather simple, the issuer indicates: "MINTED BY THE LINCOLN MINT". Below the weight of the bar 1 oz. is shown.

Kohoutek 3 reverseKohoutek 3 obverse


The next bars have different orientations.

Kohoutek 4 reverseKohoutek 4 obverse


In the center of the obvers the Sun, around  it the Earth's orbit with the Earth on the right side, the comet's orbit and in the upper left the comet are pictured. Above the comet's name, below its official designation 1973f is displayed. On the top of the reverse these data are repeated. In the center the inscription "THE FRONT SIDE SHOWS THE PATH AROUND THE SUN. COMET FIRST SEEN ON MARCH 7, 1973" report on how the obverse should be treated and for the first time the comet was seen in March 7, 1973 (when it was discovered by Luboš Kohoutek). With small letters the material, the fineness and weight of the bar can be seen, 999 silver in one ounce weight. Finally, in the bottom the name of mint "THE HARTFORD MINT" is shown.


The next standing orientation bar mentions the comet in superlative.

Kohoutek 5 reverseKohoutek 5 obverse


On the obverse below the comet's curved tail we find the inscription: "I SAW THE BRIGHTEST COMET IN RECORDED HISTORY. KOHOUTEK'S COMET. VISIBLE NOVEMBER 1973 THROUGH JANUARY 1974.", We now know that the comet did not deserve the advanced trust. The reverse side is simple, on the top an empty circle, below it the legend "ONE TROY OUNCE" and ".999 FINE SILVER PROOF" can be seen. On the bottom the mint was indicated by MEM and the 1974 date is shown.




Circular medals were also released in the United States on the occasion of the comet appearance. The Franklin Mint issued a medal made of 925 fine silver and a smaller, 10 mm diameter platinum with  the same image. On the obverse a spectacular double coma comet was modelled by  (for the time being unknown) artist. On the reverse the comet’s and the Earth's orbit around the Sun is visible. Both are named. On the bottom the legend show the official designation of the comet "COMET KOHOUTEK 1973f".

Kohoutek 6 reverseKohoutek 6 obverse

The Adler Planetarium in Chicago also issued a commemorative coin to the occasion, with the typical building of the planetarium on the reverse. On the obverse the comet moves toward the radiant sun. Below it the inscription "COMMEMORATING THE COMING OF COMET KOHOUTEK 1973-1974" is shown. Next to it the Earth turning the American continent towards us is visible. The medal is made of both silver and bronze.

Kohoutek 7 reverseKohoutek 7 obverse