Moondust sale offers touch of Tranquility|
December 10, 2001 — Spaceflori.com, the first dealer to bring legally-obtained moondust to the retail market, has announced the availability of samples recovered from the Sea of Tranquility, the site of the first manned landing.
The Spaceflori presentation, which is offered either with three or nine millimeter-wide swatches of Apollo 11 dust, allows the owner to touch the lunar soil within.
According to Spaceflori founder Florian Noller, this tactile connection was very important when designing the piece.
"In surveys I've conducted with my clients, the appeal of touching something that went to the Moon ranked very high," Noller told collectSPACE. "Now they can feel the Moon itself!"
The ability to run one's finger over lunar dust is possible due to how the moon sample was first recovered from an Apollo 11 film magazine.
Soon after their return aboard Apollo 11 to earth, the film canisters were given to NASA photographer Terry Slezak to develop prints. When Slezak opened canister "S", he suddenly found his hands covered in the dust.
As a souvenir of his "contamination" and his resulting immediate quarantine with the crew, Slezak put together a montage of photographs of his dirty hands, the metal label from the film canister, the crew's autographs and a one inch piece of scotch tape removed while he cleaned the magazine.
The tape was covered in moondust.
Flash forward to 2001 when Slezak sold the poster as part of the final Superior Stamps and Space Memorabilia auction in October. Noller paid slightly over $25,000 for the piece.
While keeping most of Slezak's montage intact, Noller chose to remove part of the tape to sell. What he found, surprised him.
"The glue of the tape had pretty much dried out after the years and now encased the moon dust like a slimy chewing gum, but it doesn't really stick to anything anymore," said Noller. "So I found if I were to mount the sample in such a way that the tape's backside faced out, you could touch it without any risk of losing the dust."
When deciding how much to charge for his samples, he felt it was important to place at least a smaller fragment in the reach of most "serious" collectors.
"It's one of Spaceflori main goals to make artifacts available to the general collector, those that are usually not going to spend tens of thousands of dollars — while still providing them the necessary information and certification," stressed Noller.
"The important part with this particular artifact ‐ moondust — is the very ownership itself, regardless the size of the sample."
The three millimeter-wide "collector's" edition is listed at $949. A larger, nine millimeter "special" edition is $5,995.
Each presentation is created to order and only a portion of the one inch of tape will be cut. If more orders for the larger, "special" edition are received first, the Spaceflori sale will end sooner.
Noller has said he will work with interested collectors to extend payment plans, as well as offer discounts.
One such discount is extended to those who purchased Spaceflori's first moondust offering, the Spaceflori Apollo 15 lunar samples. They can take an additional $100 to $400 off "collector's" and "special" editions respectively.
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