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  Apollo 15 Unflown Robbins Flown Silver?

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Author Topic:   Apollo 15 Unflown Robbins Flown Silver?
davidcwagner
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Posts: 552
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 06-17-2014 08:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for davidcwagner   Click Here to Email davidcwagner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do Apollo 15 unflown Robbins medallions contain a percentage of flown silver? What percentage? From SpaceFlownArtifacts.com:
Until recently it was believed that the Apollo 15 Robbins medallions were struck from silver salvaged from the Spanish 1715 Plate Fleet wrecks, as was the case with some of the Apollo 12 medallions. Apparently, however, the real story is that a small ingot of this silver was carried on the Apollo 15 flight and then added to the melt for the restrike of medallions 128 to 304. Thus only the unflown medallions actually contain this treasure silver.

tnperri
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posted 06-17-2014 11:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tnperri   Click Here to Email tnperri     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From a David Scott letter of authenticity as was offered in a previous auction:
Prior to the mission, 304 medallions were struck... These medallions also contained a spelling error of the landing site... However, in my Personal Preference Kit (PPK) I carried a Spanish silver bar salvaged from the treasured Spanish 'Plate Fleet' that was destroyed by a hurricane in 1715. After the mission the Robbins Company restruck the 177 medallions that had not flown and included the flown Spanish bar in the mix...

Up to Apollo 15, the entire run of medallions was carried on each flight, until the misspelling of Apennines (as Appeninnes) led to a batch being sent back to the company to be re-struck. Unfortunately this could not be done in time for the launch which meant that only 127 of the 304 medallions were flown.

davidcwagner
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From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
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posted 06-18-2014 01:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for davidcwagner   Click Here to Email davidcwagner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great reference! Thanks.

Any info on the weight of the silver bar?

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 06-18-2014 03:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More exact information regarding the Apollo 15 Flown 1715 Plate Fleet Silver Ingot can be obtained from this 2008 Howard Weinberger article.
According to Worden, the actual ingot of silver was flown and no medals were struck from it prior to the mission. In this case, that would mean that any original medals did not contain treasure silver and were purely made from regular sterling stock. When Apollo 15 returned to Earth, the ingot was sent to Robbins, who had it melted and added to a melt of unflown sterling silver to create a special melt. The newly struck and corrected Apollo 15 medals, numbers 128-304, were then struck from this new melt.

...Al Worden suggests that the silver ingot that he flew weighed approximately 2.2 ounces. When one computes that an average Apollo 15 Robbins medal weighs approximately 20 grams, or approximately .70 of an ounce, we can see that the 177 unflown Apollo 15 Robbins medals contain only a small amount of treasure silver, approximately 1.76%.

I don't think Apollo 15 CDR Dave Scott carried the ingot in his PPK as he claimed in the CoA. I think it was Al Worden who carried it.

davidcwagner
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From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
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posted 06-18-2014 09:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for davidcwagner   Click Here to Email davidcwagner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the great info.

Less than 1% flown silver is certainly greater than the content of most metals with "flown" content.

Larry McGlynn
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posted 06-18-2014 09:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I did the research on the 1715 treasure fleet medallions. I interviewed Al Worden, Dave Scott and the owners of the salvage rights to the treasure wrecks off of Cape Canaveral in 2007 and 2010.

Al Worden flew the ingot. Al and Jim Rathmann flew down to Marathon in the Florida Keys to meet the salvers. Al took two silver bars weighing approximately 2 pounds. He carried the ingots to the Moon and back.

Then he gave the ingots back to Robbins, who sent it to the Handy Company in Connecticut. Handy then melted and mixed the treasure fleet silver with new silver and created the sheets of the combined silver that Robbins Company then used to produce the medallions that were not flown on the mission.

The unflown medallions do carry some flown silver from the 1718 Treasure Fleet that was sunk in a hurricane off of Sebastian Inlet near Cape Canaveral.

Some math would say that if there were 176 1oz medallions produced, then that would be 176oz or 11 pounds of silver. That would mean that 2 pounds of silver ingots would just about equal 20% of the silver in the medallions. I am sure the math is not perfect, but there is flown silver in the medallions that are numbered 128-304.

Hope that answers your question.

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 06-19-2014 04:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Larry's research is interesting because I never truly believed that the flown ingot(s) weighed only 2.2 oz as Howard's article suggested. 2.2 oz is very little and did not correlate with Al Worden's physical description of the ingot's dimensions when I asked him about it.

To refine Larry's calculations:

177 Apollo 15 Robbins Medallions (#128-304) were not flown.
Each medallion weighs 20g = 0.643 oz t (1 oz t = 31.1035g)
177 medallions weigh 113.814 oz t = 9.484 lb t of Silver.

I could be wrong but I seem to recall Al saying that he flew 2 ingots, kept 1 and sent 1 for inclusion in the 177 medallions. I would need to check this again with Al.

Larry McGlynn
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posted 06-19-2014 08:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a small silver ingot for the 1715 Treasure Fleet. The weight is one and half pounds, so Al probably took two ingots if he carried two pounds of silver in the CM. The early ingot production was approximate and the weights varied among the ingots.

Al told me that he originally wanted to bring along a gold ingot, but the salver only had 16 oz pie shaped ingots and he wouldn't cut one up. That is when Al decided to bring silver instead.

Based on your calculations, there may even be a bit more than 20% of the mix.

Larry McGlynn
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From: Boston, MA
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posted 06-19-2014 09:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In discussing the ingot with Dave Scott this afternoon, he told that he reviewed his PPK list and one Spanish Silver Bar was listed in his CM list. While the list did not specify a weight, I would guess that it was close to the 2 pounds that Al Worden said that was flown. No other A-15 PPK list states that another bar was flown.

Again, I would also estimate, based upon the bar in my possession that the flown bar was probably close to two pounds in weight. That would mean that the amount of treasure fleet silver in the mix that Handy produced for Robbins would include about 20% of flown silver in the recast Robbins medallions.

Also, Dave mentioned that due to weight restrictions they were only allowed 127 Robbins medallions. That was the real reason why only 127 medallions were flown. It was not due to a mistake in the spelling of Apennine.

I hope that resolves some of the mystery about the Apollo 15 Robbins medallions. I will plan to post an article about the Apollo 15 Robbins medallions in the near future.

davidcwagner
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From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
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posted 06-20-2014 12:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for davidcwagner   Click Here to Email davidcwagner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two pounds is a lot. I believe the PPK weight per astronaut was less than two pounds. I would be thrilled if 20% of unflown Apollo 15 Robbins was flown silver but 2 pounds just seems excessive. Interesting thread so far.

Larry McGlynn
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posted 06-20-2014 07:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
David, I know what you are saying, but the two pound limit regulation does not hold up well in Apollo. As a related example, Apollo crews were carrying Robbins Medallions which, even when divided into three groups for transport, weighed over two pounds as a unit per bag and those same bags held other items. The PPKs carried more than 2 lbs in many cases and many missions. The 127 Apollo 15 Robbins Medallions weighed more than 2 lbs and were carried in the same bag as the ingot.

Looking at it logically, would the Spanish make an silver ingot that weighed 2 oz? That 2 oz ingot would be the average size of two Pieces of Eight or four Robbins Medallions. Why pour an ingot when you can just flatten a silver blank and pound a mint mark into it and have a coin? I have one of the smallest ingots from the treasure fleet and it is 1.59 pounds.

Although I have had this information for several years now, it did not dawn on me to do any calculations until this thread was started.

I will follow up and track down the size of the bar.

Larry McGlynn
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From: Boston, MA
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posted 06-22-2014 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have talked with Al Worden this morning and he confirmed that the weight of the Spanish Silver Bar was approximately two pounds.

As such, Al stated, "It (the Spanish silver bar) was the only addition to the mix, but could represent a significant percentage."

His hope in carrying the bar and it's use in the Robbins medallions was to make the connection between the exploration of the New World and the exploration of a new world.

One thing it does do is make these Apollo 15 "unflown" Robbins medallions a bit more interesting.

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 06-23-2014 04:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the update Larry!

Assuming for argument's sake, that the weight of the bar was similar to yours i.e. 1.59 lb, that equates to 1.932 lb t of Silver.

So (1.932/9.484)x100 = 20.37% w/w Treasure Silver.

Your original calculations were spot on!

Great to finally have a fairly accurate estimation of the 1715 Treasure Fleet Flown Silver content in the Apollo 15 "Unflown" Robbins Medallions.

Larry McGlynn
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From: Boston, MA
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posted 06-23-2014 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This thread is what stimulated my memory about talking to Dave Scott and Al Worden about the treasure fleet medallions. It was the comment about what percentage of flown silver was in the medallion that woke me up.

It was just a matter of pulling together the extraneous information that was out there.

There is much more flown treasure fleet silver in those later number medallions than Howard and I ever imagined.

There is always something new to learn in this hobby.

spaced out
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posted 06-26-2014 09:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If no-one objects I'd like to update the Apollo 15 entry on my Robbins medallion page with some of this information.

Incidentally, I'm not sure I'd agree with the above calculation.

It assumes that the Spanish silver completely displaced the unflown medallion melt mass in the re-struck medallions but it seems more likely that the Spanish silver (1,932 lbs) was added to the silver from the melted-down medallions (9.484 lbs) to create a total mix of 11.416 lbs, from which the medallions were then re-struck with some wastage.

In this case the portion of flown silver in the mix would have been 1.932 / 11.416 = 16.92% by weight.

It may even be that due to wastage in the striking process a larger initial mix would have been needed with additional fresh silver being added, in which case the flown percentage would be lower.

In any case up to 17% by weight is still a very significant amount and certainly makes these 'unflown' medallions interesting.

Larry McGlynn
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From: Boston, MA
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posted 06-30-2014 08:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chris, I contacted Al Worden again, but I also reviewed my notes from a visit with him in Denver, CO a few years ago.

Al advised me that the silver bar was 2.2 lbs of pure silver. He was in Marathon, FL Jim Rathmann visiting Jim's partner in the treasure hunting business. Al told me that he wanted to bring some Spanish gold on the flight, but the gentleman offered him the only gold ingot he had, which was a pie shaped ingot that weighed 16 pounds. Al opted for the 2.2 pound bar.

Now we can redo the math more accurately.

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 07-01-2014 05:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Larry McGlynn:
Al advised me that the silver bar was 2.2 lbs of pure silver.
Excellent work - thanks Larry! This explains where Howard miscalculated - 2.2 lb flew and not 2.2 oz.

Without the actual Robbins batch production records, the best we can do is to provide ranges. Let's look at some possible scenarios:

Scenario 1

Assumption : Ingot Bar Mass = 2.2 lb t of 100% w/w 1715 Plate Fleet Silver
Assumption : 9.484 lb t of Unflown Silver (177 Medallions) used in mix.

So (2.2/2.2+9.484)x100 = 18.829% w/w 1715 Treasure Silver

Scenario 2

Assumption : Ingot Bar Mass = 2.2 lb t of 100% w/w 1715 Plate Fleet Silver
Assumption : Total Blend Mass = 11 lb t

So (2.2/11)x100 = 20.000% w/w 1715 Treasure Silver

Scenario 3

Assumption : Ingot = 2.2 lb = 2.674 lb t of 100% w/w 1715 Plate Fleet Silver
Assumption : 9.484 lb t of Unflown Silver (177 Medallions) used in mix.

So (2.674/2.674+9.484)x100 = 21.992% w/w 1715 Treasure Silver

A range of 18.83 - 21.99% w/w 1715 Treasure Silver is reasonable. The true value could be less if more Silver was input into the blend before production, or more if e.g. a nominal 10 lb t Silver blend mass was used. Without the actual production records or knowledge of the production process it is not possible to say for certain.

20% w/w 1715 Treasure Silver seems like a reasonable production target content.

davidcwagner
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From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
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posted 07-04-2014 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for davidcwagner   Click Here to Email davidcwagner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for all the hard work. I am thinking about selling one of my two unflown Apollo 15 Robbins. What is a fair price?

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 07-05-2014 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Assuming the medallion is in excellent condition, then in a good auction:
  • $750-1000: No provenance
  • $1000-2000: Astronaut provenance
  • $2000-3000: Prime Crew provenance

Larry McGlynn
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posted 07-05-2014 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would agree with that assessment.

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