Values of space artifacts skyrocket at auction

Apollo mission hardware, reference materials continue to drive popular space category


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Edgar Mitchell's lunar surface-worn name tag shown here sold for $59,750 at the April 14 Heritage Space Exploration Auction. Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions

DALLAS – Edgar Mitchell’s Apollo 14 Lunar Surface worn “Mitchell” spacesuit name tag, originally from Mitchell’s own collection, brought $59,750 to lead Heritage Auctions’ April 21 Space Exploration Auction. All prices include the 19.5 percent buyer’s premium. Overall the auction saw a sell-through rate of more than 97 percent by value and more than 94 percent by lot total, bringing the final tally to $720,000.

“Mitchell’s name tag is certainly going to be the centerpiece a of a very serious space collection,” said Michael Riley, Chief Cataloger and Senior Historian for Heritage Auctions. “In the realm of space collecting, lunar surface worn material is by far the most coveted; it doesn’t get much closer to mission, or more unique to the astronaut, than this very piece.”

Only 12 men have ever walked on the surface of the moon, and only 12 name tags have been with them. The name tags from the suits of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are on permanent loan to the Smithsonian, and Alan Bean ground his up long ago for use in his paintings. That leaves only nine with the possibility of being made public, though many of those are in institutional hands.

“I wouldn’t count on one of these from another astronaut showing up anytime soon,” said Riley. “These are very coveted by those who own them. This was a great opportunity and a smart collector made good use of it.”

An Apollo 10 flown Earth Landmark Maps & Photos Book, directly from the personal collection of Mission Command Module Pilot John Young, was hotly contested in the auction before finishing at $43,319, more than five times its base estimate of $8,000, while an Apollo 11 Grumman Apollo Operations Handbook — Lunar Module LM5 And Subsequent Book in Binder went for $35,850, more than six times its base estimate of $5,000.

Apollo 15 Mission Commander Dave Scott’s lunar module flown flashlight, directly from his personal collection more than doubled its presale estimate to bring $26,290 and become the most valued of these space-flown heavy brass-milled two-cell flashlights to have come to auction, with similar examples from James Lovell, Gene Cernan and John Young bringing $10,157, $8,365 and $5,676, respectively, in prior Heritage Space Exploration auctions.

One of the most stunning and impressive lots in the entire auction came from the Gemini program in the form of 150 glass slides from Gemini 4, first generation duplicates from film flown on the mission, directly from the personal collection of Mission Pilot Ed White II, which brought double their presale estimate to finish at $21,510.

“These are not only stunning and amazing slides in quality,” said Riley, “but also historic as well. These were some of the very first pictures taken of the earth, by human hands, from outer space. One look and you can see that they’re simply breathtaking.”

Further highlights include, but are certainly not limited to:

An Apollo 10-flown CSM systems data checklist and an Apollo 10-flown CSM updates checklist directly from the personal collection of Mission Command Module Pilot John Young, both signed and certified, which realized $19,120 and $14,340, respectively.

For more information about Heritage Auction Galleries, their upcoming auctions and prices realized in past sales, visit www.ha.com. ?




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More Images:

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This Apollo 11-flown silver Robbins medallion, originally from the personal collection of Mission CapCom Ron Evans, realized $20,315.
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This Apollo 11-flown silver Robbins medallion, originally from the personal collection of Mission CapCom Ron Evans, realized $20,315.

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