posted 08-26-2012 09:06 AM
The autograph of Bill Anders, who flew on Apollo 8, has long been regarded as one of the most difficult of the flown astronauts to obtain.
The first signed photo is a fascinating non-personalized example. It shows Astronaut Group 3, selected in 1963. Anders is seated in front, holding the model of the Apollo Command Module. He inscribed the photo "Enjoyed working with you on the SESL ORI - Bill Anders."
"SESL" stands for "Space Environment Simulation Laboratory." As you can read on this website, the SESL was built at Johnson Space Center in 1965 to conduct thermal-vacuum testing for the Apollo command and service modules, Apollo lunar modules, spacesuits for extra-vehicular activity, the Skylab/Apollo telescope mount system, various Space Shuttle systems, the Apollo/Soyuz docking module and various large scale scientific satellite systems.
("Large scale" is right: if you look carefully at the photo at the top right on that website, you'll see a man in a green shirt standing at its base. Incredible that they were able to create the vacuum and temperature conditions of space in such a massive container.)
"ORI" stands for Operational Readiness Inspection. This is from the estate of a quality engineer for NASA with whom Anders worked on the SESL soon after he became an astronaut. (Another indicator that the photo was signed in 1965 is that Anders wrote across Roger Chaffee in a way he probably wouldn't have done after the Apollo 1 fire of 1967.)
A nice vintage signed photo with an inscription related to specific work Anders did to help prepare for the Apollo missions.
$350, plus $6 for Priority Mail shipping. By comparison, here is a run-of-the-mill personalized Anders signed photo that sold at auction two months ago for $352, and another one that sold the month before that for $468.
The "Earthrise" photo taken by Anders during Apollo 8 was instantly recognized as one of history's most extraordinary photographs.
This is a 17" x 22" print with a nice personalization (and reference to the historical accomplishment of Apollo 8): "To Mike with best wishes to an "out of the world" lawyer and friend / Bill Anders / Apollo 8."
The print was attached to a larger piece of cardboard at some point for framing, which preserved its fine condition. By comparison, here is the same size print on eBay with creases, pigment loss, tack holes and a tear... with a Buy It Now price of $950.
The writing on this one could be a little darker, but it's still perfectly clear.
$550, plus another $20 for shipping.