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  Provenance for Apollo 11 mylar lucites

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Author Topic:   Provenance for Apollo 11 mylar lucites
David Carey
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posted 10-28-2013 05:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've recently seen a number of what appear to be vintage lucite 'pucks' containing mylar/Kapton foil attributed to Apollo 11.

Goldberg's upcoming auction features a few of them such as this.

I found the names Williamson/Miner/Reid/Underwood associated with some Apollo 11 mylar productions in past threads - does anyone know if the example above was made by one of them or by NASA itself?

The mylar looks mighty clean to have been flown - were these snippings from the original (pre-launch) application?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-28-2013 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To the best of my knowledge, the gentlemen you listed (Williamson, Miner, Reid and Underwood) had no direct hand in the production of acrylics — only certificates.

There were a series of "puck" acrylic presentations created by/at the request of NASA for distribution to the Apollo mission team members. There is a difference however, in the typography and appearance of these vintage presentations and what may be more modern recreations...

Compare, for example, the Goldberg lot linked above with this lot from Bonhams. To me, the Goldberg lot is clearly from the same modern manufacturer of the acrylics containing vials of heat shield fragments (example).

freshspot
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posted 10-29-2013 07:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for freshspot   Click Here to Email freshspot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am in no way an expert in these. But I had the same thoughts as you, Robert, about the fonts used. It seems clear to me which are vintage and which are modern.

However, knowing the font type only ages the piece, it doesn't suggest that one mylar is definitely flown and the other not.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-29-2013 07:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agreed, David. It would actually be helpful to learn who is behind these more modern acrylics to be able to better judge the authenticity of the artifact material inside — but there is nothing suggesting outright that they are not bonafide flown fragments.

In addition to fonts, one other feature that may useful in discerning vintage from modern acrylics is the style of the mission numbers. From my experience, NASA's lucite presentations that were contemporary to the Apollo missions used arabic designations, whereas these newer acrylics use roman numerals.

This may not be a universal rule — I haven't done a thorough survey of all NASA acrylics — but it can be a tip for further inspection. (But only for Apollo — NASA's Gemini acrylics used roman numerals.)

David Carey
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posted 10-30-2013 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert and David - I think you are exactly correct.

In looking at 'known-NASA' Apollo acrylics (mine and others') there is a consistent/unique use of Arabic numbering and a specific font.

With no judgement of authenticity or flown status for later examples, I suspect the chronology ends up something like this:

mode1charlie
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posted 10-30-2013 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I own one of the second variety (thinking at the time that it was one of the NASA-produced ones), and would definitely be interested to learn more about its provenance.

For what it's worth, the color on mine is about 85% gold, 15% silver.

J.L
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From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
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posted 10-30-2013 11:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I own one like the one on the left. Picked it up around 8-10 years ago from a retiring NASA / MSC-JSC employee who had been there 35 plus years. I never doubted its authenticity. I also picked up four of the larger vintage Gemini acrylics from this person.

spaced out
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posted 10-31-2013 02:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Incidentally, if anyone would like to put together a short study on flown mylar presentations I'd love to host it on my Space Flown Artifacts site.

mode1charlie
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posted 10-31-2013 05:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This thread, while mainly about Gemini heat shield lucites, touches on some of the Apollo specimens, and might be a good point of reference.

chet
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posted 10-31-2013 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would seem many collectors do take the provenance factor of these three types of lucites into account, as the type 3 acrylics, as shown above, seem to fetch far less than the other two; I don't believe I've ever come across any "accounting" of who produced the "type 3's", or of the material encased within.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-31-2013 04:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally, I would (and do) treat the "type 2" and "type 3" acrylics the same — though the aesthetics of the second are better than type third.

Impossible to tell, of course, but I wonder if stronger sale data for "type 2" examples may be a factor of people confusing them for "type 1" NASA-issued originals.

mode1charlie
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posted 10-31-2013 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Impossible to tell, of course, but I wonder if stronger sale data for "type 2" examples may be a factor of people confusing them for "type 1" NASA-issued originals.

That is definitely true in my case. At the time I bought it, I didn't know there was a "type 1" and thought my "type 2" was NASA-issued.

David Carey
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posted 11-01-2013 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This lot just sold at Heritage would seem to confuse the picture.

The heat shield lucite was implied as NASA-awarded to an employee per description, and it's a close 'font-match' to the NASA-made examples discussed, but a Roman numeral is used for the Apollo mission designation.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 11-01-2013 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, most of my own NASA-authorized acrylic heat shield displays from Gemini and Apollo use the Roman numerals of the designated spaceflights they pertain to.

The Kapton swatches inside lucites do vary in design productions from NASA, NAR, and even with another aerospace company source.

The #3 newer-type post-Apollo acrylic depicted above is indeed not space agency produced or from any aerospace company source.

I do believe a bunch of this type, along with another design format, originated from a large auction house that handles space memorabilia lots every year.

Several of this #3-type, a few years ago, had wrong dates of Apollo spaceflights on them (i.e. Apollos 4, 6, and a manned lunar flight), and on occasion, though, they do show up in space auctions.

SpaceAholic
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posted 11-01-2013 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Goldbergs: Could Robert Stuckey have been the consignor?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 11-01-2013 03:54 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 David Carey:
...but a Roman numeral is used for the Apollo mission designation.
As I noted, the Roman numeral was not necessarily (and apparently not) a hard and fast rule, but still offers a reason to take a closer look.

I don't know how to describe it, but looking at an acrylic like the example at Heritage today and the "type 2" and type 3" samples above, the earlier appears vintage, where as the latter look modern. Not very scientific I realize, but the aesthetic is different.

firefly
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posted 12-05-2013 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for firefly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am a newcomer in this collection field.

After careful web searching, I also reached a similar conclusion; There are typical three types of flown mylar lucites and probably the vintage one is type 1.

So I bought the Apollo 11 mylar at the preceding Heritage auction (I do not know its market value and felt that the price, about $1500, was very expensive. What do you think about it?).

Now I would like to know any information about this item because the auction house also has less knowledge about its provenance. Do you believe that the type 1 lucites were issued by NASA just after the mission?

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