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Author Topic:   Advice getting started buying space memorabilia
Buel
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Posts: 218
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 04-09-2012 02:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm a newbie and a bit naive, I'd like to ask how I would go about buying some space history items. I can see that there are auctions coming up, I just wanted to know — how easy are these to use and, more to the point, how do you store any items?

I'm sorry this is a bit vague but I'm keen to learn. Thank you in advance.

Spaceguy5
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Posts: 421
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 04-09-2012 02:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most auction sites are pretty straightforward to use. You just need to set up an account, Proxibid require you to log a credit card (though that doesn't necessarily mean you have to pay with that card unless the specific auction states you do), and then when the auction takes place, just bid.

On eBay, you can pay right after the auction ends. If you buy multiple items from the same seller, wait for them to prepare a statement (so that they can group the items to use just one shipping cost).

On Proxibid, you don't pay until the seller prepares a statement, and usually the seller will tell you how they want you to pay (credit card, Proxibid, check, etc).

Personally, I've participated in auctions through both eBay and Proxibid, though I've also bought items directly from users on this forum. If you see something you're interested in the Buy, Sell, Trade section, just send an email to the poster. If you don't already have one, I'd also suggest setting up a PayPal account.

spaced out
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Posts: 2735
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 04-09-2012 03:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One important thing to bear in mind with a big auction house auctions is that there is always a significant buyer's fee to be added to the final hammer price. This is typically anything from 15 to 20%. You really need to bear this in mind when judging your bids.

All the auctions require that you register before hand. It's a simple process but if you intend to participate don't leave it until the last day.

OLDIE
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Posts: 180
From: Portsmouth, England
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 04-09-2012 03:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for OLDIE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't forget the retailers and organisations such as Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, FarthestReaches.com, and Spaceflori.com amongst others.

Buel
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Posts: 218
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 04-09-2012 03:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Brilliant, thank you.

I have the expected fear, with eBay at least, that some items may not be 100%?

I suppose feedback score would provide a clue? And I guess there is certified '100% genuine' element when it comes to the auctions mentioned?

Spaceguy5
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Posts: 421
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 04-09-2012 04:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Usually reputable dealers (yes, there's a number of them active on eBay as well) will sell only genuine items. Although, do be cautious of eBay items from people you don't recognize — particularly patches, autographs, and photos as those can easily be counterfeited.

However personally I've gotten a number of great items off of eBay (in general, items on eBay seem to be the most expensive though since there's more people to compete against, including many that don't know the actual value. This can sometimes lead to highly inflated prices. I've seen photos worth $5 or less sell for over $50). Someone would have a hard time counterfeiting a space shuttle tile, for example.

However, just because something comes from a reputable source, that doesn't mean they won't always make mistakes in judging items. So really, if you want to be 100% sure if something is real or not, you may have to do some of the research yourself. The best dealers will offer refunds if you believe something isn't real, though.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2506
From: Toms River, NJ
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 04-09-2012 06:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion, feedback score is just a number — particularly even more so since one can't leave negative feedback. I mean, "Great item! A+++++++++++" doesn't mean much when the item is an autopen which the seller lists as "Autograph received in the mail" (not that all signatures received as such as not real.)

Not to mention there is the possibility of sellers building up their feedback score to make it seem they're reputable and then defrauding people on the next several items.

What you want to do is check out the transactions themselves — see what the seller has sold, check out the descriptions and check out the item, if the picture is still up. If it's a signed item, compare the picture of it to other signatures, real and fake.

Particularly if the astronaut is in a rush, one signature may vary from another. I've had Linnehan sign two things five minutes apart, and while they're similar, they're also dissimilar in one way that a person would think one of the autographs isn't real.

Buel
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Posts: 218
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 04-09-2012 06:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for the advice. It is so helpful.

Please can I ask shouldn't there be some sort of 'certificate of authenticity' with items?

To be honest, I wasn't really thinking of autographs, — more documents, items that have been flown etc. Basically, items around £500+? Thanks for all this.

(I guess almost everyone wants anything to do with Apollo 11?)

Spaceguy5
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Posts: 421
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 04-09-2012 06:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Certificate of Authenticity is a farce in my opinion. Most items I've received did not come with one. The few that did, I threw them out unless they were signed by someone important.

Anyone can design a certificate of authenticity on their computer, print it out, and sign it. It really doesn't mean much unless the certificate comes from someone important, like a space center worker, or an astronaut.

Also, I typically avoid Apollo 11-related items. They do seem to be what people are most interested in. Personally, I think the later Apollo flights are more interesting anyways.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2506
From: Toms River, NJ
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 04-09-2012 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agreed. Trust the seller, not a certificate, and if possible, get a line of ownership.

The Fliteline and Robbins flown medals usually don't come with COAs, unless the astronaut sold them at auction.

Conversely, anyone can cut up aluminum foil, put it in a slab holder, and issue a certificate saying it came off a flown spacecraft.

Spaceguy5
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Posts: 421
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 04-09-2012 09:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
Conversely, anyone can cut up aluminum foil, put it in a slab holder, and issue a certificate saying it came off a flown spacecraft.
Exactly. But if you know where to look, you can usually find actual photos of what material looks like while it's installed on an actual spacecraft, and you can use that to know that what you have is authentic or not. Although it's harder confirming if your spacecraft material was actually a part of the mission it was advertised for.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2506
From: Toms River, NJ
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 04-09-2012 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the one piece of memorabilia to remember is the Gagarin medal, the medal that bears a visage of the first man in space and initially came with certificates with a pre-printed cosmonaut signature attesting that the medal contained material flown on Vostok 1.

Later, it was determined that the material had been flown, but it could not be determined which spacecraft it came from (or it was determined that it was not from Vostok 1, I forget.)

Besixdouze
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Posts: 196
From: Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 04-09-2012 09:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Besixdouze   Click Here to Email Besixdouze     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a UK buyer, like me, you can expect some late nights if you're going to buy predominantly from eBay. As most space-related items originate from across the pond, you will not find much on eBay UK.

If you are going to buy high value items from the US, here are a few precautions you should consider; avoid ambiguity in emails between yourself and the seller, make sure you get expensive items tracked through the mail and take out insurance if possible, buy using Paypal or a credit card in case items fail to arrive but make sure you put a claim in before the 48 day deadline expires and do plenty of research. Old auction catalogues from places like Heritage and Goldberg are a great source of info.

You've certainly stated off on the right foot though by utilising the wealth of information freely given by members on this forum. Good luck.

Spaceguy5
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Posts: 421
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 04-09-2012 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another thing to note: Since you're in the UK, some items cannot be exported from the US due to ITAR, such as space shuttle tiles and some rocket parts.

Buel
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Posts: 218
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 04-09-2012 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all, I really do appreciate the help and advice given, I really do.

Well, as stated, I'm not really one for autographs but having said that, I'm due to meet Harrison Schmitt and Buzz Aldrin later this year so I'm taking my hard earned ££s for those. I'm incredibly excited.

Please may I ask, what are your own personal favourite bits of memorabilia that you own/have owned?

Spaceguy5
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Posts: 421
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 04-09-2012 03:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Buzz Aldrin? Yeah you'll definitely want to bring some money.

For me, it's really hard to pick a favorite. I've collected a lot of really nice lithographs/vintage documents, a number of which look fantastic framed on my wall. Yet I've also been building up a pretty good collection of space shuttle insulation and items used onboard the space shuttle (just today I got in some surplus middeck locker trays — they're huge — and a pair of CH4 pens and Skilcraft mechanical pencils). Yet even further, I ordered a flight suit/flight jacket of the same type and from the same manufacturer as the astronaut's (just today I got in some correct American flag patches to put on it). While it's still being manufactured, that'll be special because I could actually wear it.

As I linked above, I (just this weekend, actually) started a website to share some of the stuff I've collected. Eventually I want to scan all the many photos I've picked up. The website is still a total work in progress though, I haven't even shared it anywhere else yet.

onesmallstep
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Posts: 727
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 04-09-2012 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As far as my favorite space memorabilia that I have, they would be:
  • Apollo 11 'VIP card' postmarked 7/16/69
  • 'Carrying the Fire' signed by Michael Collins
  • Apollo 11 emblem on a card signed by all three crewmembers
  • STS-41C cover signed by Dick Scobee
  • Time-Life LP record set 'To the Moon'
  • ViewMaster color reels on space from the 1960s
  • Apollo-era lithographs/posters
...and that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg as far as my collecting goes! Good luck with your hunt as you begin to add to your collection.

p51
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Posts: 1073
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 04-09-2012 05:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not so much a space 'collector' than I am into researching certain things and a general enthusiast who sometimes buys a few things. That said, I have been collecting military items for over 20 years now and am considered an authority in some subjects in that general area. With that, I have a few ideas that have served me well and would apply to space collecting:

First, assume everything is fake. I'm serious. Looking to throw down a thousand dollars on something that may or may not be real? Don't trust anyone (of course you have people in an inner circle you might trust, I mean everyone outside that), assume that everything is a fake. So, are you still willing to throw down your rent money, knowing that? If so, go for it, but understand everything you buy might be faked. If you can't deal with that, space collecting is not for you because there's an insane amount of faked stuff out there.

Second, I avoid autographs, period, unless I got them personally or they came from someone I really personally trust. That won't go over well here because many people into space history only collect autographs. People have been forging signatures as long as signatures have been used by humans. Entire books have been written just on the subject of faked autographs. Seeing how much a real Armstrong autograph is worth, the reasons for faking on are obvious. And in some cases, autographs obtained through perceived 'trustworthy' sources can be signed by someone else (not to make money, but to make the asking person happy when the signer isn't around). This used to be really common with actors, for example. I personally know someone who was a PR rep for a Hollywood actor, and she signed hundreds of autographs for fans in the actor's style. I laugh whenever I see that actor's signature for sale anywhere as it's a coin flip on if that actor really signed it or not.

Equally important is the value of knowledge. Get as many good reference books on the subject as you can find. Trust websites with a high degree of skepticism, as anyone can post anything online; it doesn't make it the truth.

Also, avoid new items being made right now at any price other than retail. People will argue this as well, but I can't count the number of times I've seen an item that sells for a few bucks go for well into three-figures because collectors have to have the first one they see because it's "rare" which often translates to "the first one that's out there." That logic didn't do well for the Beanie Baby collectors, either, but space collectors get really defensive about laying down a lot of money on the first 'just made' items to become available. Avoid the temptation!

I developed a theory on buying original older items based on what I paid for them. I call it, "Authenticity by price." It means that if you find an older item that costs way less than it would cost to make a reproduction of it, you're probably going to do okay with it.

Military collectors have a phrase, "Buy the item, not the story." People make up cool stories to justify their odd left-handed widget and so many new collectors throw down because of the story when the item just doesn't look right. Like before, trust NO ONE.

Don't buy an item that is illegal. NASA laid claim to a lot of their property, some of which got out into the public without permission. For example, not all the Apollo spacesuits are accounted for today. If someone offered one to you, you'll just have the FBI show up to take it back (at your loss) once they find out.

Fezman92
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Posts: 1030
From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 04-09-2012 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't have that large of a collection but one of the cool things I have is a headset used by mission control for the last two Apollo missions. I picked up on eBay a NASA blueprint for what I think is part of an explosive bolt system. I am looking at it right now and it may be a copy because the signatures look like they aren't separate from the blueprint. I would post an image of it but I don't have a scanner big enough.

Spaceguy5
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From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 04-09-2012 06:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally I think it's nice even just having copies of blueprints that aren't regularly available. One item I have is an -enormous- chart of the left side of Discovery showing the tiles (with each one numbered). It was dated from Rockwell as being drawn in the early 90s. No signatures, and probably just a copy (it's on yellowish brown paper), but I still jumped on it as soon as I saw it for sale as there's no publicly available resources to see such a chart.

Fezman92
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From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 04-09-2012 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also if you see something on eBay make sure you bid on it and if you miss out and no one else bid on it contact the seller to see if you can still get it.

Fair warning I tried that and it almost backfired completely. I was going to get something that was $10 total. I didn't get to bid in time and no one else bid on it. I contacted the seller and I was able to negotiate the price to half of the new listing price.

Buel
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Posts: 218
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 04-10-2012 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you once again for all the help, all of you.
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
With that, I have a few ideas that have served me well and would apply to space collecting...
I really, really appreciate and enjoyed your honesty. Thank you for those tips. I also enjoyed the story about the actor's PR rep, I can understand it though but boy would I be upset if ever I found out it happened to me (it wont as I'm not really into autographs).

Thank you once again all, I really appreciate it!!

spaced out
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Posts: 2735
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 04-10-2012 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You mentioned a price level of around £500 and an interest in documents or items that have been flown.

That falls short of the price for most flown 'whole' artifacts from the Apollo missions, although Shuttle flown flags and patches can certainly be had for that kind of money.

From the Apollo era you'd be looking more at things that have been split into smaller (and thus more affordable) pieces - e.g flown kapton foil or heatshield lucites or maybe a flown manual page of some kind.

There's also the Apollo 14 flown safety line cards to look out for, one of which sold on eBay just the other day.

jaycadence
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Posts: 16
From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 04-10-2012 05:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jaycadence   Click Here to Email jaycadence     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't help but ask... On all these eBay sites and space stores, there always seems to be one flown to space item that has Kapton foil in it. I can't help but wonder where all this Kapton foil came from?

Did the astronauts actually stop outside of the LEM to pick up a bit of foil? Where is it coming from? Does anyone know?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30069
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-10-2012 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With very few exceptions, the majority of flown Kapton is from the exterior of the command module, not the lunar module.

Most of the saved Kapton is the result of recovery team members — not the astronauts — peeling off pieces as souvenirs.

NASA frowned on this activity but outside of issuing memos asking it to stop, did little to put an end to it.

spaced out
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From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 04-11-2012 01:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately there were also some kapton lucites created quite recently that stated they contained foil from lunar modules.

In fact this was excess foil removed during the construction of the LEMs but the wording on the lucites was completely ambiguous. Worse still some ended up signed by astronauts.

Basically, anyone can have a lucite made and they can put any text they want inside it, so don't automatically believe what's written in them.

Tykeanaut
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Posts: 1843
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 04-11-2012 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Because it has been "up there and down there" my favourite piece of memorabilia is my flown film fragment in lucite from the Mercury Liberty Bell 7 mission.

Maybe we can say hello at the Harrison Schmitt event?

Buel
Member

Posts: 218
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 04-11-2012 01:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That sounds fine to me. However, I do feel a bit of 'fraud' going to this Schmitt event because my knowledge of the Apollo missions in general is not so hot... but I'm trying fast!!

May I ask how much the fragment cost you? (or is that taboo?)

onesmallstep
Member

Posts: 727
From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 04-11-2012 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
Don't trust anyone (of course you have people in an inner circle you might trust, I mean everyone outside that)..
Well, as far as collecting and dealer trust goes, even that inner circle is suspect: just a few days ago, they convicted a man who sold perfect, color-printed copies of classic 1930s horror movie posters like 'Bride of Frankenstein' for well into the six figures that would make us cSers blush. And he became so close to one of his victims, they and their wives took vacations together! Talk about trapping one in a web of deceit. Beware, do your research and ask for a second (and third) opinion.

Tykeanaut
Member

Posts: 1843
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 04-11-2012 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Buel:
However, I do feel a bit of 'fraud' going to this Schmitt event because my knowledge of the Apollo missions in general is not so hot... but I'm trying fast!!
Come to the event, it will help your knowledge get "hotter"!

The Mercury Liberty Bell piece cost me $150 from Donnis Willis at Lunar Legacies, another great guy to get your memorabilia from.

Spaceguy5
Member

Posts: 421
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 04-11-2012 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tykeanaut:
...from Donnis Willis at Lunar Legacies, another great guy to get your memorabilia from.
Certainly. I personally think he's the best. I've gotten quite a few great deals from him on his website, through his auctions, and from his eBay profile.

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