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  [Heritage] Space Exploration auction (Nov 2017)

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Author Topic:   [Heritage] Space Exploration auction (Nov 2017)
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 38281
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-24-2017 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Heritage Auctions release
Astronauts' Private Collections Offered at Heritage Auctions

Rare Apollo 11 Silver Robbins Medallion could approach $50,000 return in Space Exploration auction Nov. 10

In addition to the "Space Magna Carta," the first official document signed in space to mark the symbolic end to the "Space Race," memorabilia owned by astronauts and the most avid of space collectors will be among the highlights at Heritage Auctions' Space Exploration Auction Nov. 10 in Dallas, Texas.

Space exploration collector Ronald Ulrich:

  • An Apollo 11-Flown Silver Robbins Medallion, Serial Number 409 (est. $35,000-45,000) was one of 450 flown aboard Apollo 11, the first manned moon landing, July 16-24, 1969, with crewmembers Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. The obverse depicts Collins' original concept of the mission insignia, with an eagle carrying an olive branch in its mouth, a design NASA officials too indicative of war. Consequently, the branch was moved to the eagle's talons, leaving this as one of few – if not the only – major official item bearing Collins' original design.

  • An Apollo 11 Crew-Signed "First Man on the Moon" Stamp (est. $2,800-3,600) is an absolute rarity, a single stamp with wide selvage (surplus material on border) with the signatures of all three astronauts aboard the mission: "Neil Armstrong" in blue ink, and "Buzz Aldrin" and "M Collins" in black ink. The stamp is offered with an 11-by-8-1/2-inch color glossy close-up photo of the stamp for display.

  • A Neil Armstrong-Signed 1969 "Wapakoneta Homecoming" Ticket with Original Newspaper (est. $800-1,000) commemorates the Sept. 6, 1969 homecoming of Armstrong to his hometown in Ohio. The ticket is signed in blue ink by the astronaut and includes a small photo of Armstrong and a red Apollo 11 graphic. The accompanying newspaper features an enormous headline blaring "WELCOME HOME, NEIL" in letters so large (3-7/8 inches high) that the headline alone took up about half of the page.
From the family of former astronaut Richard Gordon:
  • An Apollo 15-Flown, Crew-Signed Limited Edition Apollo 12 Cover (est. $18,000-24,000) features the mission insignia with Navy wings by Bishop, the 6-cent flag stamp cancelled Dec. 10, 1969 (the day the crew left quarantine) and the signatures of Charles Conrad Jr., Dick Gordon and Alan L. Bean. Gordon wrote "Flown To The Moon RG" in the top left corner and "4 of 87" in the lower left corner. The verso includes the following certification: "This envelope was flown/to the moon on Apollo 15/Richard F. Gordon Jr." and contains a card reading "The Accompanying Cover/Is #4 of 87/Carried to the Moon" and is signed "Richard F. Gordon Jr/9-20-80."

  • A Gemini 3-Gemini 12 Presentation Set of 10 Flown Flightline Medals in Lucite (est. $9,000-12,000) is one of just 24 produced and a historical presentation of all 10 flown Fliteline medals, one from each manned flight of the Gemini program. All are in matched silver color with five (Geminis 3, 4, 5, 9 and 11) minted in sterling silver and hallmarked on the reverse.

  • An Apollo 12 Lunar Module-Flown Large Size American Flag and Patch on a Crew-Signed Presentation Mat (est. $6,000-8,000) are mounted on a 14-by-18-inch mat above a label reading "Sailed With Yankee Clipper/And Intrepid To The Ocean of Storms/November 1969" as well as the signatures of the crew: Charles Conrad, Dick Gordon and Alan L. Bean.
Former astronaut James Lovell:
  • An Apollo 13-Flown Silver Robbins Medallion, Serial Number 76 (est. $8,000-12,000) is one of 404 newly-designed sterling silver medallions struck from the flown metal of medallions that were intended to go on the mission but ultimately were melted down when last-minute crew changes and other problems kept Apollo 13 from completing its mission.

  • An Apollo 8-Flown American Flag (est. $4,000-6,000) comes directly from the personal collection of Lovell, who signed and certified it. The certification, split over two of the flag's white stripes, reads: "On board Apollo 8 21-27 Dec 1968/James Lovell"; the lot also includes a signed Letter of Authenticity from Lovell on his company letterhead that reads "I hereby certify that this American Flag was in my PPK during my Apollo 8 flight. Apollo 8 was the first journey to the moon in December, 1968. This American Flag is from my personal collection of space artifacts and has been in my possession since the mission."

  • A Gemini 12-Flown Embroidered Mission Insignia Patch (est. $1,000-1,500) has a three-inch diameter and features a Gemini capsule pointing toward the Roman numeral "XII" at the top, as if on the face of a clock. The patch includes the embroidered surnames of astronauts James Lovell and Buzz Aldrin" and is signed "James Lovell" on the verso.
Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov:
  • An Alexei Leonov Original Painting The Ashy Layer in Framed Display with Four Signed and Numbered Litho Prints (est. $2,000-2,500) with photographic provenance is a 19-by-12-inch painting showing a mirage-like reflection of the moon on the earth below, on which two areas of city lights can be seen. The "ashy layer" was claimed by Leonov, confirmed during a spaceflight and was the subject of his Master's thesis. The lot includes a color photo of Leonov holding the painting in his home. The painting has been reframed under glass, triple-matted with an engraved plaque in a 29-by-22-inch black lacquer frame.

  • An Alexei Leonov Original Painting Cyclone Over Singapore in Original Frame with Four Signed and Numbered Litho Prints (est. $2,000-2,500) is signed by Leonov in the lower right corner and shows a scene he saw during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission: a massive cyclone over Malaysia poking through the ionosphere and covering a large section of the planet. This is the first depiction of a cyclone from the perspective of an artist in space.

  • Alexei Leonov's Owned and Worn Soviet Air Force Major General's Uniform with Coat, Pants, Shirt, Tie and (Signed) Hat (est. $1,200-1,800) with photographic provenance was purchased by a collector directly from Leonov in 1992 and includes a 7-by-5-inch color photo of Leonov, the first man to walk in space, at his home with the uniform hanging behind him.
Former Texas businessman and NFL owner Kenneth S. "Bud" Adams. Jr.:
  • An Apollo 11 White Spacesuit Large Color Photo (est. $1,400-1,800), signed on the presentation mat to then-Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, measures 14 inches high by 11 inches wide. It is signed by Armstrong: "To Bud Adams--/Sincere Best Wishes From Apollo 11-". Beneath the photo are three signatures: "Neal Armstrong," "M (Michael) Collins" and "Buzz Aldrin." The lot is accompanied by a modern copy of the image printed on professional silk finish paper.

  • This example of Apollo 8: James Lovell Large "Earthrise" Color Photo (est. $700-900) is signed on the presentation mat to then-Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams: "Earthrise from Apollo Eight 12-24-68/To K.S. "Bud" Adams/How about the Oilers joining the Lunar Football League!/Best Wishes/James Lovell/Apollo 8, 13".

  • In a nod to Adams' stature as the owner of the Oilers and Titans, an Apollo 7 Large White Spacesuit "Football Pose" Crew-Signed Color Photo on a Presentation Mat (est. $700-900) is a rare image that is signed in black: "Walt Cunningham," "Donn Eisele" and "Wally Schirra." Below the signatures, Shirra wrote: "Best wishes Bud-/from eight short of eleven – Apollo Seven."


Posts: 4034
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-01-2017 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lot 50204 is listed as one of Helen Sharman's flown Sokol gloves; yet her flown Sokol KV2 (complete with gloves) is on display at the British Science Museum. The listing goes on to further state that its mate was previously sold through Heritage.

Heritage offers no documentation or any other substantiation to support its assertion this and the previous glove are the flown Sharman gloves. If they have such proof it should be offered as part of the lot; otherwise lot withdrawal would be prudent (maybe a refund is in order too for the purchaser of the second glove?).


Posts: 240
From: Santa Monica, CA
Registered: Jun 2013

posted 11-01-2017 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for neo1022   Click Here to Email neo1022     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I heard from an otherwise very trustworthy source that Sokol suits have a primary set of gloves (worn), as well as a backup pair that is flown on the mission (but may or may not actually be used). Can anyone confirm this?

Also, with "flown" Russian gloves, my rule has always been that it needs to have the correct handstamps and/or come with a letter of provenance directly from the cosmonaut. I've seen several auction houses state things like "Initials on glove indicate flown pair" — not true...

Of course, some flown items don't have the stamp (so you'll pass on some genuine flown items), but you'll also resist all the misrepresented ones... In any case, it has been a tradition to stamp gloves (and pretty much anything else) on the Mir/ISS, so without the stamps or letter, I always assume unflown status.


Posts: 82
From: Raleigh, NC USA
Registered: Aug 2017

posted 11-10-2017 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, getting some big numbers at this auction — surprised by some of them.


Posts: 2023
From: Plano TX (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 11-10-2017 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The good news: I was able to pick up a crew-signed Apollo 8 launch cover (from Dick Gordon's family's collection) to replace the crew cover I bought in the 90's from Regency-Superior that turned out to have an Anders autopen signature (to be fair, that autopen pattern was discovered in the late 2000s).

The not-as-good news: It cost almost 10 times as much to replace the Apollo 8 crew signed cover just 20 years later — I find it hard to believe that the current price trajectory will continue upward in a linear fashion going forward.

Definitely some very strong prices in this auction.


Posts: 82
From: Raleigh, NC USA
Registered: Aug 2017

posted 11-10-2017 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, had tried at two of the lower priced Robbins medals, both blew beyond by budgeted price — oh well, still some more auctions coming up.


Posts: 701
From: Highlands Ranch, CO USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 11-10-2017 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately many of the covers with an Orbit Covers cachet that Dick Gordon had signed have the "plugged 9" Cape Canaveral hand cancellation.


Posts: 2023
From: Plano TX (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 11-10-2017 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting... I was not aware of the "plugged 9" covers and did a quick search, resulting in finding this thread. Would have been nice to know before the auction.

So, how concerned should I be? The cover was in Dick Gordon's family, presumably since the 1960s. It is legitimately signed. Is this something that ought to be addressed with Heritage before completing the transaction?

The final hammer price was $2,500 for the Apollo 8 crew-signed Orbit cover (plus 25% auction fee). Perhaps the price would not have been as high if it had been described as a "plugged-9" Orbit cachet from Ronson?


Posts: 399
From: San Antonio TX, USA
Registered: Apr 2004

posted 11-10-2017 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceSteve   Click Here to Email SpaceSteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had my eyes on a couple of Richard Gordon's covers also.

I ended up getting blown out of the water, and onto the top of a giant redwood tree a mile or two away!

In other words, I was left high and dry.

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 2504
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 11-10-2017 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Like with the Gordon family, other astronaut families have the same-type Orbit produced Gemini covers that are genuinely crew signed.

As pointed out, there were postings about this very same topic by myself and others. Spotting a "Plugged 9" cancel variety is not that difficult at all, but rather quite easy.

But it looks like Orbit owner-producer Bill Ronson falsely released hundreds and
hundreds of Gemini and Apollo covers from 1965-69. Some of the manned spaceflight Orbit covers were even re-printed one to three years after the actual space feat took place. Once those covers were back from the printers, Ronson would affix them with that time period's first class postage rate stamps (and that's another story in itself).

It's always been my belief, though, that the Orbit producer had his own false hand cancel stamp of an unauthorized rubber stamp impression applied to any covers that he wanted a backdate strike for. He would use any day or year, as needed, mostly for a manned spaceflight launch or moon landing, since he had his own private cancel kit "outside" the Cape post office.

In my opinion, the "Plugged 9" postmark was never an authentic or officially approved USPS hand cancel device at CCPO, but rather a complete fake reproduction of an authentic-looking Cape Canaveral postal cancellation impression, but with many fraudulent characteristics about it.

With that in mind, even though the autographs are genuine on many of the Orbit Gemini and some Apollo cachet covers, the covers themselves with the fake postmark impressions would not be considered official governmental philatelic mail since the bogus Cape Canaveral hand cancels were not postal authorized or approved nor paid for by the USPS.


Posts: 399
From: San Antonio TX, USA
Registered: Apr 2004

posted 11-10-2017 06:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceSteve   Click Here to Email SpaceSteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also, I was/am aware of the "Plugged-9" issue and did notice that on many of the covers. Normally, I try to avoid buying them.

In this case however, I believe the fact that they are authentically signed by the crews "back in the day," and they have the provenance of coming directly from Dick Gordon, overcomes any perceived problem regarding the postmarks.


Posts: 234
From: Springfield Illinois USA
Registered: Sep 2015

posted 11-10-2017 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for milkit1   Click Here to Email milkit1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was able to get three of the four signed photos like this one (I missed the Fred Haise) for very cheap. I was wondering if anyone has seen other astronauts in these photos as they have the official NASA red id number at the top. Thanks!

New Member

Posts: 6
From: Brisbane, Qld, Australia
Registered: Nov 2012

posted 11-10-2017 08:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I really like that Armstrong/Langley picture. Congratulations.

I'm a novice collector mainly trying to build a collection of signed Swanson/SpaceCraft cacheted covers. I was very happy to pick up the Lovell signed lots 50420 (Gemini 7 and Gemini 12) and 50422 (Apollo 8) today. I shall probably regret not pushing harder for lot 50430 that contained four signed Swanson Mercury covers and a signed Glenn.

Could anyone please elaborate on Steve's comment above "they have the provenance of coming directly from Dick Gordon"? Should I expect anything extra with the covers as proof or should I be getting a physical copy of the auction catalog and maintaining documentation of the link myself? I only spotted the sad news about the loss of Richard Gordon on the homepage of collectSPACE after the auction. My sincere condolences to the family.

Also, back on to Orbit covers, which I know very little about, could anyone be kind enough to explain the possible chain of events that lead to the U.S. Navy Recovery Force rubber stamp being over(?) the Orbit cachet on the USS Yorktown postmarked Apollo 8 cover in "my" lot 50422?


Posts: 4034
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-11-2017 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bargains to be had in this auction. The DSKY went for a modest 48K inclusive commission.

Stole lot 50628 which Heritage clearly misidentified (unfortunately for the consignor); extremely rare example of a rate gyro package (includes 9 gyros) mounted in the Saturn V Instrument Unit (IU) that informed the flight computer (and the crew) if the vehicle was traveling on its nominal flight path; or if not supplied input to trigger the emergency destruct system.


Posts: 341
From: Lexington, MA, USA
Registered: Dec 2005

posted 11-11-2017 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for freshspot   Click Here to Email freshspot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott, very well played on the rate gyro package! A total steal. Like everyone else, I missed that.

I was fortunate to win the DSKY. I have wanted one for many years and this auction it was finally my time. I'm very pleased at the price I paid.

Steve Zarelli

Posts: 658
From: Upstate New York, USA
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 11-11-2017 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Zarelli   Click Here to Email Steve Zarelli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a clarification pertaining to previous comments.

I could be mistaken, but it’s my understanding that the postal covers from the Dick Gordon family, did not come directly from Dick Gordon. I would be surprised if any accompanying paperwork indicated they came directly from Dick Gordon.

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