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  Authenticity of Alan Shepard on Swanson cover

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Author Topic:   Authenticity of Alan Shepard on Swanson cover
Ian
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posted 03-16-2013 08:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, I'm looking to build up a collection of Swanson SpaceCraft covers (of the manned missions at least) and have an opportunity to pick up a Freedom 7 cover.

Could I please get your opinions on the following signature.

Firstly, should I be concerned about the "grainy" appearance? And, secondly do you think it is an original, autopen or secretarial? I can't get any history from the seller. I've looked at the autopen guide and there is a lot of variation over the years. I can't see any others with a tail on the 'n' like this.

Finally, if it isn't a genuine signature what does it do to the value of the cover, if anything? As I understand it, as a relative newcomer, there were/are only 300 of these covers. Thanks.

Steve Zarelli
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posted 03-16-2013 09:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It doesn't match any published Autopen patterns, but it does not appear to be hand signed. It has the appearance of a rubber stamp.

SpaceSteve
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posted 03-16-2013 09:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceSteve   Click Here to Email SpaceSteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To me anyway, that looks like a rubber-stamp. There are also none of the normal breaks between letters that you see on genuine signatures.

Ian
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posted 03-16-2013 09:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks guys. I had a gut feeling about it looking like a rubber stamp but hadn't heard of this actually being done before.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-16-2013 10:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Among the Mercury 7, Gus Grissom had his secretary employ a rubber stamp more than any of the others, but I believe Shepard did as well.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 03-17-2013 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Shepard did in fact use a rubber stamp of his signature, with at least two known different signature impressions, starting as early as 1961 when Shepard flew as the first American in space.

There was another rubber stamp impression of his signature in use when the pioneer astronaut/moonwalker was with the Mercury Seven Foundation and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, even though, it was mostly used on general correspondences.

It was an Multimarx automatic personalizer self-inking stamper first used by his foundation offices in the late 1980s.

While the above impression submitted by Ian of Australia is not the same signature pattern that I am referring to, I do believe this one depicted above may be an earlier rubber stamp impression. But this one is different than what was in use at Langley Field from his early astronaut career as noted in the first paragraph.

Perhaps after America's first spaceman left NASA and the Navy after 1974, he may had authorized use of a stamp impression of his name while with Marathon Construction Company, Coors, and/or with other of his business enterprises.

Or, just maybe, it was produced by someone or an agency not even related to Alan Shepard in anyway.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 03-17-2013 03:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, it has been my understanding that Shepard, from what I've understood from others that worked close with him, had the most use of an earlier, NASA-approved, rubber stamp impression of his signature, "Alan B. Shepard, Jr."

In my own collection, I do have a Grissom applied-secretarial signature from his Mercury/early Gemini days, however, rarely did I ever see or know of a rubber stamp signature from him. But I do recall having, long ago, a stamped-impression of his name on a "signed" Mercury astronaut group picture.

Many were also printed as well with at least 2-3 different variations that I know of.

The same could also be said of Schirra and Cooper. We know of a few different secretarial patterns that were applied, but here again, rarely were there any rubber stamps of their names, to my knowledge.

Slayton on the other hand, as with Shepard in his later years (1980/90s), also had commissioned a rubber stamp impression of his signature used by the astronaut foundations.

It was also provided by the Consolidated Stamp Mfg. Co. with headquarters in New York.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-17-2013 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Based on discussions with his secretary, Grissom had her use the stamp frequently to sign interoffice memos and other documents, whereby Shepard also had his secretary apply his signature by hand ("secretarials") and use a stamp, leading to my impression that Grissom used the stamp more often.

That said, my statement was based on less on responses to autograph requests — which both Grissom and Shepard also relied on the autopen machine — and focused more on the day-to-day documentation used at the Manned Spacecraft Center.

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 2007
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-17-2013 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, Thanks for the info about Grissom handling his interoffice memos, documents, and other office paperwork.

But keep in mind that autopens were not available for most of the original Mercury astronaut team until the new Manned Spacecraft Center had been established in 1963.

Because of the popularity with Shepard's maiden space feat in 1961, it would appear the Space Task Group, located at Langley Field in Virginia, produced a rubber stamp impression of Shepard's name along with perhaps "the first" astronaut autopen of America's pioneer spaceman in that same year.

Regarding interoffice memos and other office file paperwork, I would think internal rubber stamps of the early astronauts, in addition to non-astronaut key officials like Gilruth, Kraft, etc., were indeed used perhaps on a daily or regular basis.

I am sure, Shepard along with Grissom, had their share of secretaries using such rubber stamp devices throughout their NASA careers, even if Shepard secretarial signatures were applied more often than Grissom. But is that a fact we know for certain?

Wouldn't it be great someday to come across or discover some of the early astronaut internal "signed" paperwork from either Langley or Houston?

In my own collection I've got interoffice carbon copies, etc., but have never seen--to the best of my knowledge — an actual rubber stamped signed impression on such a paper from an original first seven throughout the Mercury era.

Anybody?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-17-2013 06:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
Wouldn't it be great someday to come across or discover some of the early astronaut internal "signed" paperwork from either Langley or Houston?
From what I recall while doing research there, there are at least some of these original documents within the Johnson Space Center history archive at the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

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