Comet Halley 1986 United States

The most medals depicting comet were issued by the 1986 return of Halley's Comet. Below some of them will be shown, without effort to attain any completeness.

The discovery and naming of Halley's comet was mentioned by the medals of its 1910 return. Here only the medals are described.

comet 1986 obreversecomet 1986 reverseThe first medal was issued by Morehead Planetarium at the campus of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill city, as it can be seen on the legend of the reverse. The reverse image shows the planetarium first opened in 1949.  The obverse pictures the portrait of Halley to the left, the comet, and the often cited sentence regarding to Comet Halley "ONCE IN A LIFETIME". This sentence refers to the fact that the 76 years orbital period comet gives only one chance to every person to watch it. Only in exceptional occasion can it be met twice as we will show some examples below. 

Halley 2 oHalley 2 reverseA numbered one ounce colored silver bar, produced in 1985 by then an uncommon technics, was issued by Coast Productions. On its obverse the Earth showing the American continent towards us, the Saturn, and between them the comet, while in the background the Sun and the stars are visible. The legend here again mentions that this comet can be seen once in a lifetime.

Halley 3 reverse

A four-piece series was also made, each 1-1 ounces of pure silver. The obverse of them all the same. Halley portrait facing half to the right and a stylized image of the comet dominates the medal's picture. The inscription on the one hand indicates the weight and the silver quality of the medal, on the other hand, Edmund Halley 's name and birth and death date 1742 – 1858. The year of the issue 1986 and MR monogram can be seen, the latter presumably refers to the engraver. On the reverses you can see four different returns of the comet. In the first we see the 1066 return, just as it was depicted in the Bayeux tapestry. The tapestry tells the story of the Battle of Hastings, and the clash of the Saxons and the Normans. Harold II of England saw the comet, which prophesied his doom, since he fallen in battle. In the picture of the coin the comet is shown above while people were watching it, below the caption: "HAROLD SEES COMET BAYEUX TAPESTRY 1066". The second part of the series commemorates the 1986 return. The Giotto spacecraft, launched by the European Space Agency's can be seen on it, which has made the most detailed images of the comet surface yet. In the center of the coin the Sun pictured in the distance, above it the spacecraft around it the comet and its tail is visible. By small letters the inscription reports "PASSING WITHIN 600 MILES OF COMET HALLEY".

Halley 7 o Halley 3 o

Halley 15 oHalley 16 o

The third medallion shows the portrait of American writer Mark Twain in the center, while in the legend we read his self-fulfilling prophecy: "I CAME WITH THE COMET AND SHALL GO WITH IT". And indeed Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who were much better known to the world by his pen name, was born in 1835 and he died in 21 April, 1910 only a month before perihelion transition of Halley's comet. The fourth medal remembers the space shuttle Challenger and the seven astronauts on board. The medal was made perhaps before the disaster. The astronaut's name: "MCNAIR ONIZUKA RESNIK SCOBE SMITH MCAULIFFE JARVIS" visible in legend around along with the "AMERICA'S COURAGEOUS". The space shuttle obviously in good condition, with opened storage space orbiting the Earth, while the comet is moving away in the opposite direction behind the Earth and in front of the American flag.

The next medal is an issue of The Burton Mint at Beverly Hills, but I could not find this mint on the Internet. On the obverse below the half left-facing portrait of Halley his name, date of birth and death can be seen. On the top the legend notifies on the weight of the coin: "ONE TROY OUNCE" that is made of one ounce of 999 fineness pure silver, as it is also described by smaller letters on the reverse. The American Bald Eagle is on the left side, while in the background the comet among the stars can be seen. On the top the last two returning years of the comet 1910 and 1986 are shown. SE probably reflects the initials of the engraver's name, which has not managed to resolved yet.Halley 4 reverse Halley 4 o

The next pair of medals is spectacular example of medals with the same obverses, but with different reverses. Both medals show the comet above the Earth on the obverse, in highly stylized form. The legend shows the name and date of return of the comet, the turn point of 1985 and 1986. The first medal's reverse displays the "view from above" projection of the Solar System, the paths of planets and the comet's orbit and marks some positions at different times along the path. As it can be seen on the coin the comet was in 1948 in aphelion, in 1983 it crossed Saturn's orbit and in 1986 it was at perigee.

Halley 6 reverse Halley 6 o

The obverse of the pair of this medal was made with the same die, while from the reverse the orbits of the planets have been taken off to provide space for a beer advertising. The U.S. beer brand Coors Light took the potential advantage of the comet's appearance to release their advertising medal. Both medal in the same size and material, they were made of aluminum.

Halley 5 o

Halley 5reverseThe next coin was made from 925 fine silver in the Franklin Mint. On the obverse the comet streak over the American continent. On the reverse the Earth's and the comet's orbit around the Sun are visible, while subtitles above mark the date of the perihelion "HALLEY'S COMET CLOSEST TO SUN FEBRUARY 9, 1986" The bottom label dates the perigee: "CLOSEST TO EARTH APRIL 11, 1986".

Halley 8 oHalley 8 reverseThe next medallion was made of nickel with gold-plated surface, and this is not the only peculiarity of this coin. On the obverse above the portrait of Halley his name, date of his birth on the left, however on the right, the year of return, 1986 can be seen. Below the inscription "DISCOVERER OF HALLEY'S COMET" is also flawed because, as in the preface of medals relating to the 1910 appearance I pointed it out, Halley did not discover any comet. He calculated when the comet will return that later was named after him.

 Halley 9 reverseHalley 9 o

The next coin is made from copper and calls attention to the fact that the comet having the orbital period of 76 years usually shows itself only once in a person's life. On the obverse the comet over the American continent can be seen while on the reverse the inscription "ONCE IN A LIFETIME"  is readable.

 Halley 10 reverseHalley 10 o

On the obverse of the next silver medal the half facing portrait to the right of Halley can be seen, in addition to his name, birth and death dates below. On the right side of the coin its fineness and weight data is placed, that is made of one ounce 999 fine silver. On the reverse the comet can be seen among the stars. As a legend "HALLEY'S COMET FALL of 1985", and the date of all its returns occurred since 1456 can be read.

 Halley 11 reverseHalley 11 o

The obverse of the next silver medal is a lot like the previous one, except that the fineness and weight values are on the reverse, and it provided a space for drawing a small comet, that is visible right from Halley's portrait. On the reverse a child or putto on an eagle is an interesting solution and very similar to one shown on the reverse of Simon Newcomb medal issued in 1970. The reverse legend reads: "ONCE IN A LIFETIME HALLEY'S COMET".

 Halley 12 reverseHalley 12 o

The obverse of the following medal uses an interesting solution to display the comet among the stars. The stars appear as shiny pits in the matte sky background. On the reverse the planets of the solar system with their orbits up to the Neptune can be seen along with the greatly elongated orbit of the comet. The legend above: "HALLEY'S COMET EYEWITHNESS COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL". Below in six lines: "November 27, 1985 marked the date that Halley's Comet moved closest to Earth on its approach to out planet - a distance of 58 million miles away".

Halley 13 o Halley 13 reverse

The next coin (wrongly) states Halley to the discoverer of the comet on its obverse. The portrait facing to the half right marked by the RCK monogram of the engraver. On the reverse of the comet among the stars is visible over the Americas. The medal reads: "HALLEY'S COMET · VISITOR FROM SPACE · 1985 - 1986".

 Halley 14 reverseHalley 14 o

The next coins were made of both silver and gold-plated bronze. The obverse shows portrait of Halley half left turned with his name, date of birth and death, and the comet's name. Under the  portrait GM, next to it and on the backside TM monograms are visible. On the revers the tail of the comet ending in stars and the year 1986 is shown. The inscription: "HALLEY'S COMET SOCIETY U.S.A.".

 Halley 17 reverseHalley 17 o

Halley 21 oHalley 21 reverse

The following numbered coin was made of 999 fine silver in one ounce weight, as it is apparent from its reverse legend. The center of the decorative ornamentation reverse is blank, presumably serves for name engraving and beneath the serial number is also engraved. The comet almost quit from the obverse of this medal, in the distance the Earth and the stars are visible. Below the initials S.G.W refers to the engraver.

Halley 18 o

Halley 18 reverse

On the obverse of the following coin the right going view of the comet can be seen with the words: "HALLEY'S COMET COMMEMORATIVE MEDAL ©". Why was the Copyright symbol placed into the text is not yet revealed. The reverse shows the Sun in the middle,  outside the Earth's orbit around it and the comet's movement at some stages, as its tail always points in the opposite direction of the Sun.

Halley 19 oHalley 19 reverse

The engraver of the next medal is RG that is Robert Gilbert. The coin has a few pictures and more text. The obverse legend: "HALLEY'C COMET NAMED FOR EDMOND HALLEY, WHO IN 1695 CALCULATED ITS ORBIT AROUND THE SUN TO BE APPROXIMATELY 76 YEARS. ON APRIL 11, 1986 HALLEY'S COMET WILL BE CLOSEST TO THE EARTH DURING ITS APPARATION; LESS THEN 39,000,000 MILES". By then it was shifting away, and this may explain the discrepancy with the medal, which makes Earth proximity to November 27, 1985. Then the comet approached the Sun, went round it and again was close to the Earth on 11 April 1986, but this time kept out of the inner solar system. In this case, however, it was much closer to us than in the previous November. As you can see the engraver took care that the legend complies with the scientific demands. The reverse side carries advertising, the advertise of engraver numismatist Robert Gilbert, who also describes on his website that he made the dies.

Halley 20 oHalley 20 reverse

The next coin was issued in the California Peninsula Coin Club edition, on the occasion of their seventh annual show. The comet's name is not even mentioned on the coin, only the obverse showing a comet and from the date 1986 can be concluded that comet Halley was represented here. More details on the obverse and the reverse deal with the event and the club itself.

Halley 22 oHalley 22 reverse