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  NASA photographs: red vs. black numbering

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Author Topic:   NASA photographs: red vs. black numbering
dmash4077
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From: Prattville Al
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posted 01-20-2008 10:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dmash4077   Click Here to Email dmash4077     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently bought some NASA photos from a photographer that worked for NASA in the 80's (Taft). Anyway, I also noticed some NASA photos recently auctioned on eBay. What is the significance of the red or black lettering on these photos? Seems like the ones with the red lettering are selling for a lot higher price than others? Thanks in advance for any info.

spaced out
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posted 01-21-2008 02:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In general, the red numbers were used on color prints and the black numbers on monochrome prints. The former are usually worth more. It's not always the case, however, as I've seen black numbers on color photos.

The most important thing to check is the watermark on the back of the photo. "A KODAK PAPER" is the one most people are looking for, with other Kodak two or three line watermarks indicating a later printing date.

Russ Still
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posted 01-21-2008 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russ Still   Click Here to Email Russ Still     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dmash4077:
What is the significance of the red or black lettering on these photos?
If you're saying that numbered photos seem to sell higher than unnumbered photos, this is probably because unnumbered (and other unmarked by NASA) photos are not the obvious former property of NASA. An autograph on an "original" NASA photo or litho will likely bring a higher price than the same autograph on a "reproduction" photo. It speaks nothing of the quality, only of the source of the document.

Regarding the numbers themselves, they are assigned (apparently) using one of a few different cataloging schemes to help identify the year of the photo, and the image itself.

mjanovec
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posted 01-21-2008 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And blue numbers too, especially in the Mercury and early Gemini years.

dmash4077
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posted 01-22-2008 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dmash4077   Click Here to Email dmash4077     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks all, unfortunately, they are all shuttle photos, no Apollo or Gemini era photos. On the back, they all say "This paper manufactured by Kodak" except one, which says "Kodak professional paper".

Some have NASA stamps in purple on the back, with the date, and description of the picture, and photo credits. There are 2 photos, that have red lettering, but blue numbers on them. I also got a couple of large photos that were matted, approx 16" X 22". A very good lot, will look good in frames.

Thanks again for the help all.

rickdiii
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posted 08-27-2009 10:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rickdiii   Click Here to Email rickdiii     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do all red serial photos have Kodak printed on the back? Sometimes I see some on eBay, that I cannot see if it says anything on the back, but the front has the red letters. I have also seen some with printing on the back. Can anyone advise if they all have that Kodak writing, or if they are just on actual Kodak paper? I hope I made sense.

dd9822
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posted 02-05-2011 01:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dd9822   Click Here to Email dd9822     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can anyone tell me the difference between a red serial number NASA photo and a black serial number NASA photo?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

fredtrav
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posted 02-05-2011 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thing to be aware of on both red and black number photos is that they can easily be copied. A good color copy will have the numbers on them, they key is NASA or Kodak info on back. I bought a wonderful signed print but it was a copy and the seller had stated as such. The signature was original and that is what I wanted. The point is without seeing the back on an auction site like eBay you have to watch what you are buying.

Phoxman
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posted 10-17-2011 04:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Phoxman   Click Here to Email Phoxman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have 20+ Apollo 11 color glossy photos. They are not the lithographs with captions and dull finish, but they are not the red lettered NASA with Kodak watermark. Instead these have black NASA letters and numbers (i.e. NASA G-70-1488). I would appreciate any information on the photos and their value.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

spaced out
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posted 10-17-2011 06:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As long as the backs have the single line "A KODAK PAPER" watermark (and not the later variants) they are vintage. The black "G-" numbering shouldn't really affect their value.

By far the most valuable image is the Apollo 11 'visor' shot of Buzz Aldrin. If you have a true vintage copy of this in mint condition it will likely sell for $150-250+. I think I've even seen one sell for $400-500 but that won't happen every time.

Other images from Apollo 11 are worth significantly less but some may still fetch $50-100 if in mint condition.

The key thing is to put them up for auction (without a buy-it-now price) to ensure you get their true value. Any direct offers to buy them are likely to come from collectors or resellers looking to avoid having to outbid rivals.

If you put them on eBay (for example) do be sure to make the listings available to overseas bidders as many of the big vintage photo collectors are in Europe.

idrvball
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posted 10-17-2011 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for idrvball   Click Here to Email idrvball     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would like to add that it was my understanding that the red numbers and black numbers originated from the Manned Spacecraft Center, and the un-numbered photos originated from Kennedy Space Center. These unnumbered photos also came with the purple NASA press release information on the back.

As far as value, I have sold a lot of vintage photos, and of the really valuable ones, such as the Buzz Aldrin visor and Ed White spacewalk photos, they both have sold for similar values.

And, of the others, they sell similarly also.

As mentioned, the big thing in determining the value, is that the photos are printed with the back printing, "A KODAK PAPER" because this paper was only manufactured until the early 1970's, it helps to prove the time period that these photos were actually from.

There would be no way for an Apollo 11 Aldrin visor photo to be actually a vintage photo if it were printed on paper with the back printing "This paper manufactured by Kodak" because that paper wasn't developed until a couple of years after Apollo 11.

So, whether the photo has the red number or not, they are still valuable if they were printed on vintage "A Kodak Paper"

One last thing, this paper is color paper, the vintage black and white photos are usually printed on paper that has no back printing at all.

There are two ways to determine the the vintage of these. The first is looking for the "Meatball" logo, instead of the "NASA worm" logo, and making sure that there is the back is uncoated with resin. You can check this buy putting a pencil mark and the back of the paper.

Phoxman
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posted 10-17-2011 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Phoxman   Click Here to Email Phoxman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the information but it does not fit my pictures. There is nothing on the back... no NASA photo description or Kodak watermark. However, the front is much glossier than other mass produced NASA lithographs and they have the "G" numbers which I have not seen on red or black letters. Thanks for all of the help.

spaced out
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posted 10-17-2011 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Kodak watermark can be very faint. It is repeated diagonally across the paper.

Phoxman
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posted 10-17-2011 10:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Phoxman   Click Here to Email Phoxman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have several with red and black letter and the Kodak watermark, but these do not which is why I am puzzled. Any ideas of the G numbering?

LateApex
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posted 11-27-2012 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LateApex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've seen a number of NASA "Red Stamp" or sometimes referred to as "Red Number" photos for sale on eBay. What are these?

Also, there seems to be a wide range or prices. Are the values driven by the mission/content, or are other factors at play?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Mike Dixon
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posted 11-27-2012 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LateApex:
Also, there seems to be a wide range or prices. Are the values driven by the mission/content, or are other factors at play?
The values are most certainly driven both by mission and content ... and particularly, the market.

Some Apollo / Gemini red stamps in recent times (on eBay at least) have been attracting really high prices, with some others, nothing more than loose change.

Beau08
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posted 11-28-2012 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know the back-story on the vintage NASA numbered photos? Were they originally for internal use, or public consumption? There is probably no way to know, but I wonder how many of them were produced. I was lucky enough to pick up an Aldrin visor photo awhile back and they seem to be quite rare.

mmcmurrey
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posted 11-29-2012 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mmcmurrey   Click Here to Email mmcmurrey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaced out:
In general, the red numbers were used on color prints and the black numbers on monochrome prints.
Have you seen "blue stamped" vintage NASA photos? I have a couple from my father's office (PAO) which was part of the NASA library in the 60's.

spaced out
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posted 11-29-2012 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Beau08:
Does anyone know the back-story on the vintage NASA numbered photos?
They were press release photos, that is prints distributed to the press for use in newspaper and magazine articles of for still images in tv reports.

The most important images were doubtless produced in large quantities but many will have ended up in archives or were thrown away. Only those examples that ended up in private collections will tend to resurface today at auction.

spacehiker
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posted 12-10-2012 12:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacehiker   Click Here to Email spacehiker     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An astronomical price has just been achieved for this Apollo 11 photo on ebay (ebay item 321034693819).

I have seen 3-4 identical photos to this sell on ebay for between $150 - $200 in the past 6 months but for some reason this one achieved a price of $455!

kosmo
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posted 12-10-2012 03:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What about the price on this NASA News Media photo on ebay, 321034671266. $2,040.00 because it came from the Rita Rapp collection, I don't get it!

spaced out
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posted 12-10-2012 04:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think the price is related to the fact that it comes from the Rita Rapp collection.

This has always been the most sought-after photo from the space program and has fetched impressive prices before but this is certainly as new record on eBay, as are many of the other sales from last night for each particular image. I guess we were just seeing a clash between at least two major vintage photo collectors.

Beau08
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posted 12-10-2012 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Beau08   Click Here to Email Beau08     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was able to snag a couple of the more realistically priced photos from that lot. There was one particular bidder that had (0) feedbacks that was very active in several of the higher priced items. A new energetic collector I suppose. The Aldrin visor photo was blowing me away when it was at $400+ and could barely believe my eyes as I watched the final minutes go to 2K+!?!

mach3valkyrie
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posted 12-11-2012 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have an Apollo 9 photo of Galveston Bay that has a GREEN ink identification stamp. It's "A" Kodak paper, so it's an original period photo. (It also happens to be crew signed.)

Maybe they're like Lion Bros. patches — only made at the time of the mission. (and reprinted later on different paper). Just a thought.

kosmo
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posted 12-20-2012 04:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another NASA News Media photo AS11-40-5903 on ebay #321041265194 sold for $1,575.00. I'm sorry, I still don't get it.

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