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Full Coverage: 2004 Swann Galleries sale

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Preliminary results: top performing lots

March 29, 2004 — Swann Galleries has released the preliminary results of their Space Exploration sale held Saturday, March 27, in New York. The following are the top 20 performing lots (prices include buyer premium):

Lot Title/Description Result
141 Flown Apollo 11 Crew Signed Beta Emblem, signed by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, 1969 $36,650
143 Flown Apollo 11 Navigational Chart used during the first lunar landing, signed and inscribed by Aldrin $29,900
142 Flown United States Flag from the first lunar landing mission, signed and inscribed by Aldrin $23,000
144 Flown Lunar Module Activation Checklist, flown to the lunar surface, signed and inscribed by Aldrin $21,850
151 Flown Apollo 11 Commemorative Postal Cover, August 11, 1969, signed by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin $20,700
150 Flown Apollo 11 Toothbrush and Storage Sleeve, one of only two taken to the lunar surface during the first lunar landing, Lactona for NASA, 1969, with a Typed Letter Signed by Aldrin $18,400
135 Flown Apollo 10 Extra Large United States Silk Flag, may be the earliest lunar mission flag of this size ever offered at auction, inscribed and signed by Tom Stafford, 1969 $17,250
287 Space Shuttle Columbia Crew Signed Portrait lithograph, from the estate of crew member David Brown $17,250
1 Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, manuscript regarding construction of space devices, signed four times, 1912 $13,800
148 Flown Apollo 11 Robbins Sterling Silver Medallion, with a Typed Letter Signed by Aldrin, 1969 $11,500
145 145 Flown Lunar Module Dictionary defining the functions of the Guidance and Navigation system, signed and inscribed by Aldrin, May 1969 $9,200
146 Flown Apollo 11 LM Lunar Surface Checklist, with step-by-step procedures used while inside the Lunar Module, carried to the lunar surface, signed and inscribed by Aldrin, June, July, 1969 $9,200
175 Flown United States Flag carried to the moon on Apollo 14, from the collection of Edgar Mitchell, signed and inscribed by Mitchell, 1971 $9,200
171 Flown Apollo 13 Beta Cloth Crew Emblem, signed by Fred Haise and James Lovell $8,625
202 Flown Prep/Post EVA 1 Cue Cards with Lunar Dust, two cards with procedures listed on each side, may be the largest LM cue card set ever offered at auction, with a Typed Letter Signed by Charles Duke, 1972 $8,625
201 Flown Apollo 16 United States Flag, signed and inscribed by Charles Duke, 1972 $8,050
53 Flown Gemini 9 Mission Patch, signed and inscribed by Gene Cernan and Tom Stafford, 1966 $7,475
206 Flown Personal Storage Bag with Lunar Dust, used by Charles Duke in the Lunar Module, signed and inscribed by Duke, 1972 $6,900
273 Apollo Command and Service Module Contractor Model, approx. 21 inches tall, made by Hyatt, Inc., 1969 $6,210
2 Robert H. Goddard, Typed Letter Signed, on the development of a high-altitude rocket, Roswell, New Mexico, May 1, 1931 $5,980

In total, of the 333 lots offered by Swann, 211 sold for a total of $443,411 ($385,575 Hammer).

Astronaut's toothbrush highlights auction

March 28, 2004 — It may not have been the highest bid of the day, but gauging by the reaction of reporters covering Swann Galleries' space memorabilia auction yesterday in New York, Steven Belasco's $16,000 bid on a toothbrush was certainly the highlight.

A lawyer for Colgate-Palmolive, Belasco's purchase of astronaut Buzz Aldrin's plastic, Lactona-brand dental instrument - one of only two carried to the lunar surface on the first moon landing - was driven more by an interest in history than his professional connections.

"It's such a fascinating item. To think that one of the first people to walk on moon had this with them 30 years ago," said Belasco. "This is a real treat. This stuff should really be in a museum."

Belasco also bid and won a flown Apollo 11 lunar descent chart for $26,000 and an activation checklist for the lunar module for $19,000, both inscribed by Aldrin.

The highest bid of the day was placed by an unidentifed phone bidder on another Apollo 11-flown lot, an emblem printed on the same material that covered the astronauts' spacesuits signed by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Aldrin.

Other sought after lots included a set of lunar dust-stained cue cards flown to the lunar surface on Apollo 16, a Project Mercury brochure signed by America's first seven astronauts and a teflon-coated bag used to store the Apollo 7 Personal Preference Kit (PPK) for Walter Cunnigham (who was in attendance at the auction).

Despite bidders' interest in lunar carried items, an Apollo 14 flown Portable Life Support System (PLSS) strap from the collection of astronaut Edgar Mitchell, valued at $50,000 and considered a pre-auction highlight, did not elicit a winning bid.

Two items consigned to the auction by Space Shuttle Columbia astronaut David Brown's family were withdrawn at the request of NASA, according to a statement issued by Swann. The Brown estate intended to donate the proceeds of the sale of a flight suit and flight helmet to a non-profit organization that works to inspire students to pursue opportunities in science and engineering.

According to Swann, NASA said that policies were in place to permit astronauts and their families to retain the items for use in public appearances, but not to sell them, even for charitable purposes.

Brown's family were still able to sell a mission lapel pin and an STS-107 crew-signed photograph to raise $15,000 for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Approximately 50 people gathered at Swann's offices for the auction, in addition to bidders participating by phone and mailed-in proxies. The auction was Swann's second space memorabilia-focused sale in as many years.

Moon, astronaut artifacts to be sold

March 4, 2004 — Astronaut equipment flown to the surface of the Moon and the personal memorabilia of a member of the Space Shuttle Columbia's final crew are among the items to be offered at a March 27, auction hosted in New York City by Swann Auction Galleries.

Swann's second annual "Space Exploration" auction features flown items from the collections of astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, Gordon Cooper, Walter Cunningham, Charles Duke, Edgar Mitchell, Thomas Stafford, and others. The sale comprises more than 300 lots of equipment and artifacts, patches and emblems, medallions, manuals, charts and maps, postal covers, photographs, posters and more.

Among the earliest items offered is a manuscript on jet devices and outer space by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, which dates back to 1912. Often called the "Father of Astronautics," Tsiolkovsky signed the eight-page document four times (estimate: $8,000 to $12,000).

Another early item is a typed letter signed by Robert H. Goddard, who launched the first liquid fueled rocket in 1926. The letter, which was written in Roswell, New Mexico in 1931, discusses the general principles of high altitude rocket propulsion and his plans for developing one of these rockets. ($3,000 to $4,000).

Early NASA items include a 23-reel microfilm archive containing thousands of documents related to the design and structure of the Mercury spacecraft ($8,000 to $12,000).

Swann's auction offers many signed flown items from the collection of Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the Moon, including a U.S. flag ($25,000 to $35,000) and a navigational chart showing the descent path of the spacecraft over the Moon's crater-covered surface. The chart was used by Aldrin and crewmate Neil Armstrong as they approached the surface for the first lunar landing ($30,000 to $40,000).

Aldrin is also selling a pair of checklists: a Lunar Module (LM) Activation Checklist card used by Aldrin and Armstrong prior to undocking from the Command Module, with notes made by Armstrong during his preparations, and a Lunar Surface Checklist card used while inside the LM to set up communications and other equipment, both inscribed by Aldrin ($8,000 to $12,000 each).

There is also a more personal object, a toothbrush and storage sleeve -- one of only two taken to the lunar surface on the mission -- with a typed letter signed by Aldrin ($12,000 to 15,000).

For sale from the Apollo 14 mission is a flown Portable Life Support System (PLSS) strap with lunar dust on it. This cloth-covered support strap was part of Edgar Mitchell's gear and was on the Moon's surface for more than 33 hours. According to Swann, it is one of the heaviest pieces of crew personal space suit equipment that was out on the lunar surface ever to be offered at auction. ($50,000 to $60,000).

The auction also features a handful of items from the estate of astronaut David Brown, who died last year with the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia. The entire proceeds from the sale of Brown's memorabilia will be donated to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit organization that designs programs to inspire young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering.

Included among Brown's items is an official NASA standard issue flight suit worn for training duties, aircraft flights and public appearances, with Brown's Shuttle crew patch, ID patch and Navy wings attached ($30,000 to $40,000); Brown's official NASA flight helmet used during jet training, including the helmet's green military issue carrying bag that has a white label on which Brown wrote his name ($18,000 to $22,000); and a NASA color lithograph of the Columbia crew that was signed by all of the flight members: Brown, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Rick Husband, William McCool and Ilan Ramon (estimate $12,000 to $15,000).

Rounding out the sale are artifacts are two rare flown mission patches from the Gemini missions of 1965 and 1966 ($4,000 to $6,000 each); flown items from Apollo 7, 10, 13, and 16 -- including a package of flown space food; Apollo mission charts, offered individually or in groups; many astronaut autographs; more than 20 postal covers signed by astronauts; and posters from the US, USSR and Europe.

The auction will begin promptly at 2:00pm EST on Saturday, March 27, at Swann Galleries' offices on East 25th Street in New York.

The items will be on public exhibition beginning March 20, from 10:00am to 4:00pm; then continuing March 22 through March 26, from 10:00am to 6:00pm; and finally March 27, from 10:00am to noon.

Illustrated catalogues are available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at

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