An American flag which was flown to the surface of the moon and returned aboard Apollo 14 is expected to be one of the most sought-after items at this weekend’s Space Exploration Signature Auction being conducted by Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas.
The American flag has been part of the personal collection of Mission Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell, who also has signed and certified the small cloth flag. It was carried aboard the lunar module Antares to the surface of the moon on February 5, 1971, where it remained for nearly a day and a half. Apollo 14 was the third successful lunar landing mission and is notable for mission commander Alan Shepard hitting the first golf ball outside of Earth.
The flag – as with all items flown to the moon’s surface – is expected to draw a lot of attention at the auction with Heritage estimating it will fetch between $25,000 and $35,000.
However, the flag is not the only rare artifact up for bidding which has flown on a mission to the moon. A sterling silver medallion flown to lunar orbit aboard Apollo 17 is also up for auction and expected to top at least $30,000 before bidding ends. The Silver Robbins Medallion is not only one of only 80 to have been flown on the sixth moon mission, but it also is from the personal collection of Mission Commander Gene Cernan.
The obverse of the medallion features the mission insignia depicting the head of the Greek god Apollo, a U.S. flag and eagle, the moon, and the names of crew. The mission dates are engraved on the reverse with the phrase “The Beginning”. An eyelet has been added to the top to allow it to be worn as a necklace. As the rarest of all Apollo silver Robbins medallions, this one is only the second flown Apollo 17 example Heritage has ever offered. Being from the flight commander’s collection should make it even more desirable. Included with the medallion are two handwritten letters from Cernan verifying its authenticity.
“These are both very evocative pieces and represent what collectors love most about Space memorabilia,” said Michael Riley, Chief Historian and Senior Cataloger at Heritage. “They’ve got legendary names, important missions and they not only witnessed those things but actually made it to the moon, or very close. In fact, there are more than 50 lots in this auction that flew to the moon.”
Several color photos featured in the auction are bound to draw the watchful eyes of serious space memorabilia collectors.
The signatures of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins adorn the mat framing a large color photo of the Apollo 11 crew. The photo had been presented to Bill and Eleanor Bergen. Bill was the executive of North American/Rockwell, the company most responsible for the Apollo spacecraft during its critical development phase.
Another rare item is a large color photo signed by the entire first two groups of NASA astronauts. The photo features the signatures of the original Mercury Seven as well as the nine members of the second astronaut class. The photo was originally obtained by an early NASA employee and bears the signatures of Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Armstrong, Ed White, Jim Lovell and 10 other heroes of America’s early space program.
One autographed item will be bittersweet for whoever wins it: a color photo signed by the crew of the ill-fated Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-107. Columbia disintegrated during its re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003. This official NASA photo is signed by all seven of the brave astronauts who lost their lives that day.
In all this weekend’s auction will feature 273 lots of aerospace items, running the range from autographed books and photos, to flight hardware, mission patches, spacesuit displays, flight helmets and even a few science fiction movie props.
Heritage offers seven ways for bidders to participate in their auctions – from pre-bidding by internet, email, postal mail or fax, to bidding live in person or via phone or online. Heritage offers an online FAQ for those with questions about auction items, placing bids, or even the selling of your own personal collectibles.
For those in Dallas on Friday or Saturday, the items may be viewed in person at 3500 Maple Ave. on Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Bidding via the internet is slated to end at 10 p.m. on Friday followed by the live auction beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the first floor auction room at the same address as the viewing. As with many auctions, there is a buyer’s premium (19.5 percent in this case) added to all winning bids by the auction house.
Heritage will be holding another Space Exploration Signature Auction in Dallas on November 1 and 2 of this year. The deadline to consign items for the auction is September 4 with internet bidding beginning on October 14. Those interested in placing items to sell at the auction should contact Heritage’s Marsha Dixey at via phone at 1-800-872-6467 extension 1455 or via email at MarshaD@HA.com.
Besides the semiannual space auctions, Heritage also holds a weekly internet auction for rare books and letters. All lots start the bidding at $1 and everything is sold without a reserve in these weekly auctions. Auctions include rare, antiquarian and collectible books and prints in various subject areas, including literature, history, art, science, aerospace and science fiction among others.