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  122853834166: Apollo 12 insurance cover (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   122853834166: Apollo 12 insurance cover
Mike_The_First
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posted 12-30-2017 03:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not the only one who sees the disconnect between the title ("Apollo 12 Crew Signed Insurance cover") and the description here, right?
Apollo 12 Crew signed Insurance cover from the personal collection of Apollo Astronaut Ed Gibson.
Why would Ed Gibson be the beneficiary of an "insurance policy" for the Apollo 12 crew? What am I missing?

bklyn55
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posted 12-30-2017 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bklyn55   Click Here to Email bklyn55     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the seller is making two statements: it's an Apollo 12 insurance cover and, it belonged to Gibson. Not an insurance cover FOR Gibson!

Michael Davis
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posted 12-30-2017 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Davis   Click Here to Email Michael Davis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ed Gibson was part the support crew and served as a CAPCOM on Apollo 12. It would not be too unusual for the crew to offer a cover to someone in that role.

Mike_The_First
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posted 12-30-2017 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Davis:
It would not be too unusual for the crew to offer a cover to someone in that role.

I have no problem believing that astronauts provided signed crew covers to other astronauts. But that's not what we're discussing, because that's not what the seller is offering.

We're talking about a cover that was signed because the crew couldn't get traditional life insurance, so, should anything happen to them, the beneficiaries would have the ability to cash out something of a similar value for an identical purpose.

Possession of an insurance cover was the equivalent of being a beneficiary on the astronaut's life insurance policy. That's the reason they existed. Just as I wouldn't cut my coworkers in on my life insurance policy, I tend to believe that the astronauts, close as they were, would feel the same.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2017 04:17 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 Mike_The_First:
We're talking about a cover that was signed because the crew couldn't get traditional life insurance...
This is a common misconception; the Apollo astronauts had life insurance policies. They couldn't afford it themselves, but companies agreed to underwrite the premiums. From the footnote here researched and written by Chris Spain and Richard Jurek:
For Apollo 11, the Travelers Insurance Co, of Hartford, Conn. approached the astronaut office offering to provide their insurance, with the premiums being paid for by two Houston firms, the Austral Oil Company and the Cullen Central Bank. According to Earl Bells, a manager at Travelers' Houston office who set up the Apollo 11 insurance policy, Neil Armstrong forbade any publicity about this deal.

According to Bell this lack of publicity made it very difficult to find anyone to pay for the Apollo 12 insurance premiums, but in the end a group of businessmen finally paid for $50,000 premiums for each astronaut (equivalent to roughly $300k today).

The signed covers were just an additional potential source of income for their families should something have gone wrong. After the astronauts returned safely to Earth, the envelopes became mementos, but still retained the title "insurance covers."

The auction is for an Apollo 12 insurance cover (Type 1) that at some point became part of Ed Gibson's collection.

Mike_The_First
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posted 12-30-2017 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
This is a common misconception; the Apollo astronauts had life insurance policies.
I was going off Al Worden's words on the subject:
Insurance covers are postal envelopes that were printed with a cachet, stamped, postmarked on the day of launch and signed by the flight crew prior to launch. The astronaut’s families then retained these special covers as insurance against the possibility of an accident in space that would not allow the crew to return to earth. This procedure was accomplished for every space flight because commercial insurance was not available.
His LOA spells it out even more explicitly:
The purpose of these covers was to provide for the crew families in the event the crew didn't return from their flight. There was no other insurance available to the crews because of the risk of flights to the moon.
So, at the very least, it's a common misconception that's further confused by the astronauts themselves.
quote:
After the astronauts returned safely to Earth, the envelopes became mementos, but still retained the title "insurance covers."
Assuming I'm interpreting this statement correctly, I don't (and can't) disagree with it. But I do take issue with the implication in this specific context.

If Al Worden bought one of Mary Irwin's Apollo 15 insurance covers, would it be an "Apollo 15 insurance cover from the personal collection of Al Worden" or would it be an "Apollo 15 insurance cover from the personal collection of Mary Irwin that was also previously owned by Al Worden"?

I'd argue, quite vehemently, in favor the latter.

Heck, I'd even go so far as to say "insurance cover, originally owned by..., from personal collection of..." is fine. But "from the personal collection of," period, full stop, is a step too far. Even just for provenance reasons, rather than the implications I take issue with, no good comes of cutting the original owner out of the equation.

If nothing else (and, in my opinion, there's plenty else — but I respect that I'm probably in the minority on that), nobody can look at this piece and prove that it's anything other than a crew signed Bishop cover previously owned by a fellow astronaut. While that's, in and of itself, nice, it doesn't convey the same sense of history (or value) as an insurance cover.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2017 04:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, it would be more complete to include the full chain of ownership with the cover in question, but it is not incorrect to say it is from the Gibson's collection (as it was).

Gibson may not have shared (or remember) from whom he received the cover.

quote:
Originally posted by Mike_The_First:
So, at the very least, it's a common misconception that's further confused by the astronauts themselves.
It would appear that Armstrong's desire for "no publicity" held firm until Chris and Richard published their research.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-30-2017 05:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Keep in mind that many Apollo Bishop-type cachet covers were not all signed and retained as insurance covers by their designated signing astronaut crews.

When the Bishop covers were printed before a lunar launch, Bishop himself would have many of the same type covers signed by the crewmen for his own personal Apollo philatelic collections.

Therefore signed covers like this, though, were not owned by the designated astronaut crew and/or their family members since Bishop was the cover producer.

Other astronauts not assigned to the designated prime crew, such as backup and support capacities, didn't necessarily in some cases get their own signed Bishop covers directly from a prime crew or family member.

Bishop himself would have the crews sign his own covers, before their launch to the moon, but his covers were never really owned by a prime crew astronaut or family member in the first place.

Regarding Ed Gibson's owned Apollo 12 Bishop cover, it looks to me that the crew signed cover is not consistent to most, if not all, of the crew's personal pre-launch signed insurance covers that I am familiar with. This one is different in its signing characteristics. I'll contact him soon and see what he says.

Mike_The_First
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posted 12-30-2017 05:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Yes, it would be more complete to include the full chain of ownership with the cover in question, but it is not incorrect to say it is from the Gibson's collection (as it was).
As I said, at the end of the day, I still disagree with the implications of the semantic choice, but I can appreciate that I'm a bit of a stickler in that regard, and, thus, in the minority.

At the very least, is there any way, short of contacting Ed Gibson, to prove the claim that this is an insurance cover?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2017 05:11 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:
Bishop himself would have the crews sign his own covers, before their launch to the moon, but were never really owned by a prime crew astronaut or family member.
Thanks for the added insight. I was basing my belief this was an insurance cover based on an (mis)understanding similar to what is stated on Chris' website:
The Bishop covers are unique; in that the cachet design was printed exclusively for the crew, families and friends and were not made available to collectors.
I wasn't aware Bishop retained his own covers, which changes the situation a bit.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-30-2017 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also, Robert, while the Bishop covers were mainly produced for the astronaut crews, families and close friends, such as Al Bishop, many of the Bishop cachet covers did find their way to space enthusiasts and cover collectors — even before that particular Apollo launch took place!

Before launch, some Bishop covers were addressed and later mailed out after a liftoff postmark had been applied. Some were even signed by the crew or a single
astronaut crewman when mailed.

Crewmen were also known to address some of their own Bishop covers while they were in isolation at crew quarters to be mailed out after their launch. Once again, some were signed before launch, while others were not.

Chuckster01
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posted 12-31-2017 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chuckster01   Click Here to Email Chuckster01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I emailed Ed Gibson to ask about the Apollo 12 cover and his reply was
The covers are not Insurance Covers but items had had signed at the time of the mission. My Father was an avid autograph collector and I had these signed mainly for him.
So the cover was not owned by any crew member but was signed at the time of the mission. I hope this helps.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-31-2017 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You had beaten me to it, Chuck, in contacting Gibson about his Apollo 12 crew signed cover.

Just as I was trying to explain in prior postings here, not all Bishop-produced signed Apollo crew covers were considered insurance covers.

I have many of them, and from different missions, that were never owned by a prime crewman or family member. Many of mine came from Bishop himself and found in other collections that I have acquired, signed and unsigned, and mostly from well-known Space Age personalities (that Bishop knew well).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-31-2017 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I learned something new out of this, so thank you Mike for questioning the auction.

Chuck, thanks for reaching out to Gibson, and Ken for the background on Bishop. In hindsight, it might have been better if Bishop had used a different style cover for his own autograph collecting, but he probably wasn't concerned about how it would affect the trade of these covers 50 years later.

micropooz
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posted 12-31-2017 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Back in the late 1980's Rand Philatelic sold a fairly big holding of Bishop and other insurance-like Apollo crew signed covers. I had always assumed that Rand got those because of the close ties that they had with JSC and the JSC Stamp Club, but I never got a chance to talk to either of them specifically about that. Ken, do you know the story of how Rand got those?

SpaceAholic
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posted 12-31-2017 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo 12 crew, all active duty Navy, retained some insurance as well under the Servicemen's Group Life Insurance Program (SGLI).

Mike_The_First
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posted 12-31-2017 12:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
Just as I was trying to explain in prior postings here, not all Bishop-produced signed Apollo crew covers were considered insurance covers.

It's worth pointing out, as a follow up to Ken's statement above, that (at least at the moment) popular belief is that none of the crew signed Apollo 15 Bishop covers were insurance covers.

Of course, that belief may change, since, as far as I'm aware, it's based solely on the recollections of Al Worden, and memory isn't infallible. However, it does stand as a good warning regarding making assumptions based solely on the cachet of the cover. After all, if every Apollo 15 Bishop cover could exist without being an insurance cover, who's to say that a few couldn't fall into that category for other missions? In fact, as Ken (and Ed Gibson himself, thanks to Chuck) have pointed out, that's not only a possibility, but exactly what we're all looking at here.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-31-2017 02:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by micropooz:
Ken, do you know the story of how Rand got those?
Actually, Dennis, to answer your question about how Matt and Eunice Radnofsky acquired their signed Apollo Bishop covers, I just don't know! To my knowledge, Matt and Eunice never knew Bishop that well since Al was not that often in the JSC/Houston area throughout the Apollo program years. Perhaps one of their astronaut friends was able to provide them with the covers, or maybe it was Barbara Gordon, or someone else close to both parties.
quote:
Originally posted by Mike_The_First:
...it's based solely on the recollections of Al Worden, and memory isn't infallible.
With the conversations I had with Al Worden several years ago, Worden told me that he had no recollection of any pre-launch signed Apollo 15 Bishop insurance covers.

Al Bishop, though, had told me during the early 1990's that many of his astronaut-insignia and wing propeller cachet covers for Apollo 15 were a part of the Apollo insurance cover issues.

In re-thinking over the whole issue of rather or not they were pre-launch signed insurance covers, I would have to go with what Al Worden said from his memory, in that, more likely they were not. I think Bishop may have confused pre-launch Apollo 15 insurance covers of his cachet design with those that were actually flown on the mission, of which, Bishop had designed as well.

Bishop had received a phone call from Hal Collins at crew quarters asking if he could provide a lightweight envelope cover design, but was not told that the lightweight envelopes were going to fly on the mission with Dave Scott.

It's my belief that Bishop had assumed the requested envelope covers from Collins were going to be a part of his own, or included, as pre-launch prepared and signed insurance covers for Apollo 15.

Once Bishop had more information on the requested special cachet covers that he had designed and printed up at Brevard Printing in Cocoa, FL, he was perhaps later told they were not to be used as regular pre-launch signed insurance covers, but rather, a special request from the crew commander for his own personal use.

From a time frame, I am guessing, when Al found all of this out, it may had been in early July 1971 with only days — maybe a week or two — before liftoff approached. Within that short time period, it's quite possible that Bishop went back to the printers and produced his own insurance cachet variety envelopes, but not having enough time to prepare them for pre-launch signings and insurance purposes.

Therefore, after the crew was back home safely from their lunar voyage, Bishop gave the crewmen his/their customary astronaut-related insignia cachet covers for their own personal uses. During that time, I am thinking, hundreds of them were probably crew signed with many of them going back to Al.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-31-2017 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On second though, Dennis, are you sure (see prior above posting by "micropooz"), that the ad you saw advertising many Apollo crew-signed insurance-type covers was by Rand Philatelic Bureau?

The more I am thinking about it, Dennis, there was a similar ad by Superior Coin & Stamp Co. during the 1980's that listed insurance-type covers from Apollo missions 10 thru 16 and at very low prices? Are you sure it was Rand and not Superior?

micropooz
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posted 12-31-2017 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken, yes, it was definitely Rand. That's how I first met Matt and Eunice. Unfortunately I never asked how they got the covers.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 12-31-2017 06:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Dennis, but I just can't recall such an ad from Rand (missed it), but only remember their Apollo 11 crew-signed insurance cover offerings of all three cover types.

Do you happen to recall if Rand had any earlier signed Apollo insurance-type covers in that same offer a few decades ago?

One of the signed covers from the earlier Superior ad featured the Apollo 10 Heritage Crafts insurance-type covers, which by the way, in my opinion may have served as a personal crew-picked cachet cover for personal uses by the flight crew astronauts before their lunar orbital flight.

micropooz
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posted 12-31-2017 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken, thanks for the memory jogger! Yes, Rand had the three Apollo 11 variants and the Apollo 15 non-Bishop insurance-like covers, not the Bishops. My mistake.

albatron
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posted 12-31-2017 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's really very simple. Some of the insurance covers ended up in the hands of the back up and support crews. I helped Paul Weitz sell some he had from the Apollo 12 mission, and I know Jerry Carr had some from Apollo 12 as well.

Therefore, if that particular astronaut owned the cover (as is the case with Ed Gibson who has certified this cover as from being form his personal collection), then while it may not have been a mission he flew, but he owned it.

So Gibson's articulation is proper.

Chuckster01
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posted 01-01-2018 06:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chuckster01   Click Here to Email Chuckster01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
Bishop himself would have the crews sign his own covers, before their launch to the moon, but his covers were never really owned by a prime crew astronaut or family member in the first place.
It is a strange distinction made between the astronauts signing covers at the same time, same place and saying the few given away and kept by other people were not insurance covers.

If a crew signs several hundred covers in crew quarters as insurance covers but then gave several away to friends and colleagues then these are the same covers that were kept as insurance covers, they just were not retained by the prime crew.

These were not signed after the mission or signed before the mission separate from the ones intended to be insurance covers.

I am not sure who makes the determination that a stack of identical covers all signed by the crew as insurance covers that only the ones the prime crew kept for 30 to 40 years would be an insurance covers.

This seems to be a very interesting distinction that I cannot comprehend.

Chuckster01
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posted 01-01-2018 06:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chuckster01   Click Here to Email Chuckster01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In having a conversation with another friend on this subject he brought up the fact the in the early days of collecting but after the Apollo program ended he believes many insurance covers where sold and given by astronauts (as well as flags and other items) where provenance was not so important or an issue.

He is fairly sure there are true insurance covers out there that have no letter of provenance or anything written on the covers themselves. I am sure Ken can add to this if true.

During the actual missions if a prime crew member gave an item to a friend or colleague, documenting that transaction was not even a thought. It is my understanding that documenting the provenance of these items started many years later.

capoetc
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posted 01-01-2018 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many years ago (early 1990’s, I think), I bought an Apollo 11 Type 1 insurance cover from Adam Harwood, who was an active, well-known, and trusted dealer. I paid $500 for the cover (which I thought was crazy expensive at the time, but I really wanted one).

At the time, the cover was advertised as coming from Michael Collins, but I do not have any documentation of this now. It just did not seem to be important at the time. Now, the best I can do is type up a letter and have it notarized stating the back story of the cover. There are no other markings or authentication on the cover.

I don’t recall seeing astronaut authentication on the reverse of insurance covers until the last ten years or so ... perhaps the practice started earlier, but I don’t recall seeing it.

bobslittlebro
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posted 01-01-2018 08:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobslittlebro   Click Here to Email bobslittlebro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree. Back in the late 80s, Rand was selling the three types of Apollo 11 insurance covers for $150, which was a great price seeing that Apollo 11 crew signed covers were going for $600 or so at the time.

It was said that the Rand insurance covers were from Michael Collins collection but at the time provenance wasn't that big of an issue or that important. Rand was such a trusted leader in the cover community their word was taken as written in stone.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-01-2018 09:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Chuckster01:
This seems to be a very interesting distinction that I cannot comprehend.
I'll do the best I can, Chuck, to answer your questions concerning the Bishop insurance covers. I think the term or phrase "insurance" and what it really means isn't as simple as it may seem or imply, or at least, from my standpoint.

First of all, there are Bishop insurance covers that have been annotated and signed on the back of their envelope surfaces as being a personal owned crew-signed insurance cover. In fact, I had this done on several of my own insurance covers that I had acquired directly from Pete Conrad, Jim Irwin, Dick Gordon, Ed Mitchell, Charlie Duke, and Alan Bean that I know of, also with Fred Haise of a different type.

While the cover batches for a specific Apollo crew were handed over to the crewmen, usually by Bishop himself or from another individual from crew quarters. it's true that most of the crew-owned Bishop covers were distributed to each crewman and pre-launch signed while in between breaks of their training schedules here at the Cape's/KSC crew quarters.

The signed Bishop covers mentioned above were indeed, after applying their launch day postal cancellations in most cases, were later transported back to Houston for safe-keeping by their families. By this definition or background history, by all means, they can be considered official crewmen-owned pre-launch signed insurance covers, correct?

If a family member later decides to give one or more of their same-owned covers away to a relative, astronaut buddy, or personal friend anytime during or after the flight, it's my opinion and/or understanding it's still considered an insurance cover from that particular astronaut family. No problem with that assumption, right?

But keep in mind, that many of the same-batch envelope covers were kept by Bishop and other close friends of his, both before and after the completed lunar mission, as a flight memento.

Others, by the way, were given away in mint condition with no stamps or cancels applied, and with and without any crew signatures. Some of the later Bishop covers saw their way for philatelic uses with lunar landing and recovery day postal markings, mostly with KSC strikes.

I do know for fact, though, that not all of the "outside-owned" Bishop covers were even crew signed before their launch to the moon as the crew was extremely busy preparing for their space trip within the last few days and week(s) of their launch.

Many Bishop covers, while not directly owned by the crew families, were signed when the astronauts came back from their lunar voyage to Al and others within their close knit inner circle of friends. But in some cases, though, Bishop did have some of his own covers crew signed before they went to the moon, as well.

It's my thinking, and just from my own opinion, that such Bishop-owned covers were never truly owned or held by an astronaut family member for any duration throughout the actual flight since he had his own covers himself with no crew families directly involved in their handling.

Therefore, in all considerations, maybe the owned Bishop covers -- along with all of the others that were given out, mailed, etc. by him and others, crew signed or not -- may qualify as "insurance-TYPE" covers, or perhaps just the signed versions.

But for those signed Bishop covers before the flight, that had been directly owned and retained by a crewman's family (and even held for the crewmember himself when returning back home) until after the mission, such covers are truly the only variety that I would consider as an official pre-launch crew signed insurance cover(s).

Tom
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posted 01-01-2018 09:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting topic... just to add a bit, I purchased one of the Apollo 15 "Bishop" covers from Ken back in 2007. In the lot description it is noted that "This particular cover was given to Al Bishop, a close friend of the crew and their families, from Dave and Lurton Scott after the mission."

So in this example, some of those covers were the property of a crew member, albeit a brief period of time.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-01-2018 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In this case, Tom, the Scott family gifted one of their signed Bishop-type covers back to Al Bishop, which had to be more likely post-flight period, and not considered by Worden as a pre-launch signed insurance cover.

Mike_The_First
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posted 01-01-2018 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Chuckster01:
It is a strange distinction made between the astronauts signing covers at the same time, same place and saying the few given away and kept by other people were not insurance covers.
It doesn't seem that strange to me.

It all comes down to the purpose and intent.

Insurance covers, as the name implies, were, as established, used to supplement the life insurance policies of the crew members.

If the crew signed a cover and gave it away immediately, it does nothing to fulfill that purpose, unless, as I mentioned earlier, their goal was to make that person a beneficiary of the "insurance policy" provided by the covers.

In such cases, it's far more likely that the goal was to give the individual(s) a signed memento of the flight. As covers are also perfect for that as well, it's no surprise that some would also be used for that purpose.

Perhaps this will help me better understand where you're coming from, Chuck: if the crew signed covers pre-flight for Al Bishop and gave them to him immediately, where would the "insurance" part come into play?

Insurance covers, as far as I'm concerned, literally existed to be sold if the astronauts didn't come back. That's why they were signed.

So, ultimately, from where I stand, it comes down to whether the covers were given with the words "Sell this if we die" or "Here's a memento from our [upcoming?] flight." I'm guessing that most, if not all, of the covers that originally went to non-family members were given with the latter sentiments, rather than the former, though, of course, I'm open to correction on that.

Same item, signed at the same time, but with drastically different intent. Of course, this isn't the first time that this discussion has come up on this site.

Chuckster01
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posted 01-06-2018 05:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chuckster01   Click Here to Email Chuckster01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Found this Apollo 16 cover on eBay listed and sold as an insurance cover originally through RR Auction. The seller claims it came from Ken Havekotte. This was sold as an insurance cover but has no astronaut provenance even mentioned.

And Nate Sanders is selling this Apollo 11 insurance cover, again with no mention of any association with any astronaut on the prime crew or otherwise.

I see the seller of the Apollo 12 cover has changed the listing to say insurance type cover but there would seem to be reputable auction houses selling covers with less provenance then the one listed for Apollo 12 as insurance covers. It is my thought that RR and Nate Sanders should be following the standards listed above, as I would consider both trusted auction houses. So I thought I would add this to the topic. What would be your opinion on these?

Mike_The_First
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From: USA
Registered: Jun 2014

posted 01-06-2018 07:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Chuckster01:
I see the seller of the Apollo 12 cover has changed the listing to say insurance type cover...
The source of the cover said (to you, no less), in no uncertain terms, that the cover being discussed is not an insurance cover.

It would be a bit strange if the seller was made aware of that and continued to list it as such.

quote:
This was sold as an insurance cover but has no astronaut provenance even mentioned.
Insurance covers aren't necessarily going to be certified as such anywhere on the cover, nor will they necessarily come with a letter or something indicating their authenticity.

The lack of that doesn't mean that it's not what it's purported to be.

But, without that, there's no way to prove it one way or the other. Unless something like that certification is added, there's no distinguishing characteristics between an insurance cover and a crew signed cover from the same period, just as there's no way to differentiate between an uncertified flown piece of kapton and a piece of unflown kapton.

If I were to offer a piece of kapton and say it flew on Apollo 11, but offer no proof to back that up and not even tell you who I acquired it from, would you buy it with the same level confidence that you'd buy a piece with iron clad provenance that can be traced back to Ken or one of the Navy guys who worked with the recovery team?

Insurance covers are the same way. Yeah, something might an insurance cover, but unless the seller can back it up, the most anyone knows for sure is that it's crew signed cover with a launch date cancel and crew signature styles dating back to that same period. That doesn't mean that the seller/consignor who knows what it is can't offer it as what it is, but most buyers will only buy it for the lowest common denominator if they can't prove that it's anything more.

It's no different than questionable autographs. You sometimes see the experts say "It could be real, or it might not be — I'm not comfortable enough to say for sure". That doesn't mean it wasn't signed by the person in question, but given a choice between an unquestionable signature and a piece that nobody feels comfortable enough with to rule one way or the other, most buyers (for good reason) will put more money toward the former.

EDIT: I was browsing old Opinions & Advice threads when I came across this one. Would you mind please clarifying why you say:

quote:
The seller claims it came from Ken Havekotte.
...when Ken himself told you that he believes that the cover was sourced from him and verified that it originated with the crew as an insurance cover? It's not just the seller making the claim, but, rather, the seller and Ken.

While it'd obviously be more ideal for a buyer who doesn't have a direct line to Ken like we do to have that verification supplied with the sale, the lack of it doesn't change the facts. And the information he provided in that thread is not much different than would provided in such a letter.

So, I am confused at the point you're raising. My thoughts on the matter don't differ significantly from Ken's, or, as seen on the linked thread, yours.

My qualms are simply regarding, like all items whose value is derived from what they are (as opposed to simply what they look like), provenance (which in the linked Apollo 12 cover was established by your contacting Ed Gibson and in the linked Apollo 16 cover by your indirectly contacting Ken), as well as semantic implications of billing an item as being "From the personal collection of [x]" when it actually originated with [y], which I made clear was a personal semantic hangup from very early on.

In my spare time, I sometimes go through the old messages here. That's how I found the 2016 thread above and how I came to read every post over in Auctions.

In Auctions, with pieces like we're discussing that can't be intrinsically verified, it wasn't unusual for potential buyers (and winning ones) to do provenance research by reaching out to the auction house and/or the astronauts and verifying the information in the catalog. In some cases, they were told, as with the Apollo 12 cover, that the catalog description was incorrect. In others, they verified the information, which served the same purpose as if the letter was included with the item in the first place. Some even went as far as having the astronaut finally certify the item so there wouldn't be any issues in the future.

Provenance isn't limited to just what's supplied by the seller at the time of the sale. While it's obviously more convenient for everything to be provided (and good practice for a seller), that doesn't mean that their failure to do so erases any such opportunities. When someone tries to sell an Apollo 12 Insurance Cover from the collection of Ed Gibson or an Apollo 16 Insurance Cover from Ken Havekotte, the potential buyer isn't (currently) precluded from reaching out to Ed Gibson or Ken Havekotte and asking if the description is accurate. You've done both — in the case of the former, the answer was "No" and in the latter, the answer was "Yes." In both cases, additional information about the item was provided. Now both covers have (digital) letters of provenance, and the seller wasn't involved at all.

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 2551
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
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posted 01-07-2018 07:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Briefly, for Chuck and Mike, keep in mind that some of my own insurance covers, while gotten directly from some of the flight crew astronauts, did not have a supporting letter, COA, or written notation when acquired from some of the flight crewmen.

With Conrad (on a few earlier issues), Irwin on others, and Duke as well that I can recall, I did ask for supporting annotations on back of some of the envelopes when acquired from them directly.

But not all of my astronaut-provided insurance covers, even from the same astronauts mentioned in other purchases from them, had such notifications on them as it was a different purchase or arrangement at a different time.

I think the Duke cover would qualify in the reference above that Chuck is asking about. Perhaps, though, the Apollo 16 cover referred to above might be considered an "insurance-type" cover since there is no direct documentation associated with it. But I have some of my own Duke covers nearly 20 years ago, but not all, with the supporting written annotation on back as; "This Apollo 16 crew signed insurance cover is from the personal collection of Astronaut Charlie Duke, (signed), Apollo 16 LMP."

Chuckster01
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Posts: 509
From: Orlando, FL
Registered: Jan 2014

posted 01-07-2018 07:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chuckster01   Click Here to Email Chuckster01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mike, first off the covers I am referring to are the Apollo 11 cover being sold by Nate Sanders and the Apollo 16 cover being sold on eBay. The cover discussed in the 2016 thread was an Apollo 16 cover given to Al Bishop and then purchased by Ken Havekotte and later resold. I did not see anything in the post that Ken said anything specifically about the Apollo 16 cover in question was one he purchased as an insurance cover or even that he sold that cover. Maybe I missed something?

Secondly as you started this topic, if an insurance cover is only one owned and retained by the prime crew for the purpose of life insurance then the provenance and trail of ownership is the only way to prove that it was ever owned by a member of the prime crew. If not, then every crew signed cover without that provenance is just an insurance-type cover.

According to what I take from your last post, all I need is a correct era cover signed by the crew and as long as there is no documentation we can claim this as an insurance cover and there is no way to dispute the claim unless it does not fit into the signing style of the true insurance covers?

I have two Apollo 16 insurance covers from John Young (RIP). Both of mine are notated on the back and signed again by John Young as insurance covers. All three astronauts signed both of these covers in blue sharpie but the one linked on eBay has three different pens used.

Charlie Duke and John Young have both sold several insurance covers from there personal collection Ddocumented as insurance covers and all of the Apollo 16 insurance covers have been signed in all blue Sharpie. So again I ask, without provenance how do you determine these are insurance covers?

It is not hard to look at all of the Apollo 16 crew owned insurance covers that have been sold with confirmation by the prime crew and look at the one for sale on eBay and see they do not match. Why would the crew all retain covers signed in blue only and give away one signed in three different pens?

On the Apollo 11 cover being sold by Nate Sanders, I see the cover was signed by Michael Collins as "Mcollins" and not his full name. I am hoping Ken will chime in on this as I consider him an expert on these covers, but all of the covers I can find sold and certified as insurance covers by the prime crew, including my own cover without certification, as well as all of the covers I can find that flew on the mission are all signed "Michael Collins." Again it makes me question the claim of insurance cover.

My goal here is not to offend anyone but to understand better what the space community deems a proper insurance cover.

I have several pre-flight signed cover that were purchased as, and I assumed were, insurance covers before this topic came up. But as I only have four that are notated as such on the back or with a letter from the astronaut, I am now not sure of the status of the covers I own.

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

posted 01-07-2018 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To the best of my knowledge, Chuck, none of the Type 2 & 3 insurance covers for Apollo 11 were signed "Michael Collins." Most all, if not all entirely, were signed "MCollins" and with "quicker" signatures of crewmates Armstrong and Aldrin with an underscore of twin lines.

From my understanding of the Type 2-3 insurance covers, Chuck, they were the last groupings of covers prepared and signed while the crew was in quarantine here at KSC's crew quarters before rocketing off to the moon.

The Type 1 MSCSC cachet cover varieties were the first cover types the crew had been approached by for possible insurance cover uses by Matthew and Eunice Radnofsky.

Of the three different available types of Apollo 11 commemorative covers, the club covers were released first within weeks before the first lunar landing mission took place. They became available by the MSCSC and Rand Philatelic Bureau of the Houston/space center area.

It's also my understanding that all of the Type 1/MSCSC covers for Apollo 11 were signed in the same-type patterns and with the same blue ink pens that included Collins' full name. I did note, however, that a limited few may had been signed in black ink by Aldrin and Collins, though.

Both the Type 2-3 cover varieties were later signed in crew quarters before launch, but with a different light-blue ink by all three crewmen. It's my belief, also, that with the signing of so many cachet covers after the first batch, Collins decided to shorten his signature with "MCollins."

Also, Chuck, I don't think anyone out there can be considered "an expert" when it comes to insurance covers. As for me, I'm just an avid space enthusiast and enjoy collecting and working on space covers and memorabilia. There are still many unanswered questions that I have on the topic, but perhaps the flight crewmen themselves would qualify as an expert when it comes to their own insurance cover holdings of the flights they flew on.

Mike_The_First
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Posts: 427
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2014

posted 01-07-2018 12:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Chuckster01:
I did not see anything in the post that Ken said anything specifically about the Apollo 16 cover in question was one he purchased as an insurance cover or even that he sold that cover.
From the 2016 thread:
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
Yes, Chuck, it's an Apollo 16 crew signed insurance cover and I think this particular cover was one of mine beforehand from Bishop/crew owned.

...therefore, as I see it, the Bishop covers would be considered genuine crew signed insurance covers since they were first held by the astronaut families throughout
the flight of Apollo 16.


Unless I'm misunderstanding, that seems quite clear to me. If the cover was being sold with a signed letter from Ken saying the same, we'd accept it as an LOA — I see no reason to do differently when that information is provided by other means.
quote:
Originally posted by Chuckster01:
Secondly as you started this topic, if an insurance cover is only one owned and retained by the prime crew for the purpose of life insurance then the provenance and trail of ownership is the only way to prove that it was ever owned by a member of the prime crew.
Correct.
quote:
If not, then every crew signed cover without that provenance is just an insurance-type cover.
Incorrect.

An insurance cover that was held for the purposes described above doesn't retroactively change into something else because its original intent can't be proven.

That said, if the potential buyer isn't happy with the level of proof available (not necessarily "offered," but "available"), then they certainly shouldn't pay more for it than what they'd pay for an identical insurance-type cover. That's what I meant earlier when I said they'll only buy questionable items for the lowest common denominator.

quote:
...all I need is a correct era cover signed by the crew and as long as there is no documentation we can claim this as an insurance cover and there is no way to dispute the claim unless it does not fit into the signing style of the true insurance covers?
That wasn't really my point, but it's true.

There are no ways to distinguish between an insurance cover and an insurance-type cover that were signed at the same time. The most you can do is say "Yep, that's one" based on certification or say "Maybe that's one" based on the lack of it.

To use Kapton once again to illustrate my point, someone can buy this item, pull the foil off the card, and sell it as "Flown to the moon on Apollo 11." If they don't offer the name of a specific source that can be checked with and trusted, there's not much, if anything, anyone can do to prove it one way or the other.

But, at the same time, buyers aren't stupid and won't buy a piece of allegedly flown Kapton that they can't verify for any more than they'd spend on a piece of unflown Kapton, whereas they'll happily pay a lot more for an identical piece that has a basis of origin with someone like Ken and that said person says is good.

quote:
So again I ask, without provenance how do you determine these are insurance covers?
Because in 2016, provenance was provided by Ken and I trust Ken.

All we have to go on is people's word in this hobby. When we start doubting that, we're discussing a lot more pieces of a lot more value than just insurance covers.

That said, there's the old saying: "trust, but verify". Reach out to the involved parties and confirm the information you're provided with. Provenance doesn't necessarily need to just come from the seller.

quote:
Why would the crew all retain covers signed in blue only and give away one signed in three different pens?
Good question. I can't answer it.

It's possible that Ken was mistaken about the cover's origins. It's possible that there's more to the story.

Ken can be reached through here and email, the seller can be reached through eBay messages, and Charlie Duke's office is reasonably easy to get a hold of & they respond to inquiries.

I would assume that at least one of them can answer it. If they can't, then I'd agree that the cover isn't necessarily worth the premium over a pre-launch crew signed insurance-type cover, given that the question will constantly hang over its head.

quote:
Again it makes me question the claim of insurance cover.
There are people who are less familiar with the hobby who call every signed cover, regardless of what it is, an FDC, because that's what they hear people call items that, to them, are identical to what they're holding.

Similarly, there are also people who don't know what an insurance-type cover is and assume that everything that fits the physical description can be described as an "insurance cover," regardless of its original purpose. Keep in mind that people used to think that the Apollo 15 covers with the Bishop cachet were insurance covers.

At the same time, there are dishonest people who see the price difference between insurance covers and insurance-type covers signed by the crew at the same time and know that it'd be hard to actually prove that the latter isn't the former.

quote:
My goal here is not to offend anyone but to understand better what the space community deems a proper insurance cover.
Take a look at the Cernan thread I linked a few days ago. Even by the end, with Cernan himself chiming in, there wasn't a consensus on that.

But there is a distinction between the definition of a proper insurance cover and the acceptable level of proof for a proper insurance cover to be comfortably bought and sold as such.

A piece of Kapton that flew to the moon did so regardless of whether any of us can prove it. The question is whether we'd pay a premium for said piece.

quote:
But as I only have four that are notated as such on the back or with a letter from the astronaut, I am now not sure of the status of the covers I own.
Just like flown items, not every insurance cover came with verification of that nature. Lack of it doesn't change the facts.

Unfortunately, though, insurance-type covers, like unflown items, also don't come with verification of that nature.

capoetc
Member

Posts: 2038
From: Plano TX (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 01-07-2018 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For what its worth, it seems to me that it is a fruitless effort to try to settle once and for all what "is" an insurance cover and what "is not" an insurance cover in absolutely iron-clad black-and-white terms.

There are some covers which almost everyone would agree are definitely insurance covers — in my view, as time goes by these covers will be in the minority. These are the covers which have astronaut certification written on the back or perhaps a signed letter accompanying the cover from the astronaut — it will be difficult for anyone to persuasively argue against the status these covers will hold going forward.

There are some covers that most will agree are "not" insurance covers. This category will cover a wide range of covers, but the common thread between them is that the majority of knowledgeable collectors will agree that they are not insurance covers.

The two paragraphs above are the "black" and the "white" categories.

The remainder will fall into a grey area... these are the covers that "look" like insurance covers, that have period signatures like insurance covers, they are stamped and cancelled the same as known insurance covers, they may even come with a story that, to varying degrees, would seem to solidify their status as insurance covers. Some will seem closer to the "white" side of the spectrum, others will seem closer to the "black" side, but they will remain grey.

Unfortunately, I do not see any way to avoid this reality — insurance covers and insurance-type covers will remain sought after, but the lack of foresight on the part of many (I include myself in this group) means that the grey area will always exist. The only options collectors will have going forward is to educate themselves, buy the "item" and not the "story," and accept that shades of grey will be the end state of the insurance cover issue.

(Someone will correct me if I am wrong on this, but as I recall the reason why the Apollo 11 Type 2 and 3 insurance covers were signed in a different style than the Type 1 covers was that some of the Type 1 covers were removed from the stack of planned insurance covers to be packaged and flown to the moon on the mission — the Type 2 and Type 3 covers were included in the group of insurance covers to make up for those covers that were pulled out to be flown.)

Mike_The_First
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Posts: 427
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2014

posted 01-07-2018 09:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike_The_First   Click Here to Email Mike_The_First     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
The remainder will fall into a grey area...
No disagreement from me, though I'm careful to caution talk of what is, rather than what can be proven.

An insurance cover like the one you mentioned up-thread, which came from the collection of Mike Collins, is still an insurance cover which came from the collection of Mike Collins. The issue is whether a buyer can be suitably convinced that the cover is such.

So, while an educated buyer likely won't differentiate between "this isn't an insurance cover" and "this can't be proven to be an insurance cover" on a practical level, I don't think the cover itself needs to be downgraded in status, so to speak.

I, personally, see it as a continuum where "insurance cover" and "insurance-type cover" are mutually exclusive and at both ends of the spectrum:

  • "Insurance cover certified by [x]" = "This is definitely an insurance cover, as [x], who ought to know, said so."

  • "Uncertified insurance cover" = "This is definitely an insurance cover, but I don't have anything beyond my word to back that up."

  • "Possible insurance cover" = "This may or may not be an insurance cover. I have no reason to think that it's not, nor, ultimately, do I have any reason to think that it is, so I'm not going to stake my credibility on it either way. At the very least, it's an insurance-type cover signed before launch."

  • "Pre-launch signed insurance-type cover" = "This is definitely not an insurance cover, though it resembles one in pretty much every way except function/purpose."
I welcome input into the above, as I may well be thinking too narrowly on the subject.

Chuckster01
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Posts: 509
From: Orlando, FL
Registered: Jan 2014

posted 01-08-2018 05:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chuckster01   Click Here to Email Chuckster01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If only we could get the people who sell their covers and space artifacts to list them as they are known to be and not as they wish they where,

The added value of the word "Insurance" will likely follow the word "Flown" and that to is not always the case.


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