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  Terry King: "Astronaut signatures are not all that valuable..."

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Author Topic:   Terry King: "Astronaut signatures are not all that valuable..."
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 10-15-2007 07:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Fort Morgan (Colorado) Times has an article about a recent local appraisal clinic held by appraiser Terry King ("Heirlooms, collectibles value offered").

King's comments about space memorabilia caught my attention, especially in light of the newspaper describing him as "perhaps best known for his expertise in items from aerospace and particularly from astronauts."

For many years, sale of things the astronauts had or brought back from the moon was forbidden, since they in essence belonged to the U.S. government. Collectors would buy things like huge rocket nozzles, but could get hold of little else, he said.

That changed in the 1990s as attitudes changed and rules relaxed, perhaps because the space shuttles brought so many things back from space, King said.

However, astronauts have always tried to find ways to make things valuable. Gus Grissom took a roll of dimes up into orbit in his capsule and James Irwin of Apollo 15 seemed to have hundreds of coins and flags he could claim had been to the moon, King said.

Often, these kinds of items were given away for diplomatic purposes, he said.

Most of the best items go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, but others are sold at Christie's, the auction house. The highest price he ever saw was $365,000 for a patch from an Apollo 15 space suit, which had moon dust on it.

Astronaut signatures are not all that valuable, because like baseball players their "second job is signing stuff," King said.

Interestingly, "Russian space stuff doesn't sell for beans," he said.

Before I comment on his comments, anyone know Terry King? Or anything more about his experience with space artifacts?

Ken Havekotte
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From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
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posted 10-15-2007 09:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nope, sorry, never heard of a Terry King. Not even associated with any autograph company, appraisal service, nor anything else. Perhaps he may be of some local Colorado-area interest specializing in collectibles, but certainly not to my knowledge on a national scale.

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 10-15-2007 10:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While it may have been a reporter misparaphrasing him, I'm not too impressed by the "seemed to have" and "he could claim" ascribed to Jim Irwin. Irwin was someone determined to give the flags he flew to the moon to all of the respective heads of states, and I have never previously heard any suggestion, as these words imply, that there was something fishy about the items he wanted to give away with (literally) missionary zeal.

mjanovec
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posted 10-15-2007 11:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Astronaut signatures are not all that valuable, because like baseball players their "second job is signing stuff," King said.
That's great news, because it means I should be able to collect some of those cheap signatures like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to go along with some equally cheap Neil Armstrong and Gus Grissom signatures.

Moonpaws
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From: Lee's summit, MO
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posted 10-16-2007 07:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Moonpaws   Click Here to Email Moonpaws     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When Jim Irwin accepted our invitation to come and speak at our flight school in 1988, he sold a signed picture of his moon salute for $1. I can assure you that his greatest motivation was to serve other people.

Scott
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posted 10-16-2007 08:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Like Ken, I had never heard of Terry King.

I particularly liked this passage:

One woman asked about a signature on a school desk, not mentioning the personage. King said signatures and autographs are interesting, but almost always have to be attached to something the person was noted for in order to have value.
Wrong.

Lunar rock nut
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posted 10-16-2007 01:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For clarification purposes maybe Robert should interview him for a cS article.

Robert Pearlman
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Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-16-2007 01:53 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 Lunar rock nut:
For clarification purposes maybe Robert should interview him for a cS article.
Based solely on this direct quotes, I am not sure if Mr. King merits a dedicated article, but even if I were so inclined, I have been unable to find any record of him in association with space artifacts, hence my request for information from readers.

FFrench
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posted 10-16-2007 01:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds like a letter from Robert to the newspaper is in order!

leslie
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posted 10-22-2007 08:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for leslie   Click Here to Email leslie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mr King may be well advised to brush up on his quotations from Abraham Lincoln.

"Tis better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."

Lunar rock nut
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From: Oklahoma city, Oklahoma U.S.A.
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posted 10-23-2007 06:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sure Mr. King deserves a please open mouth and insert foot article. Inquiring minds would like to know where he derived his so called expertise. I am sure cS readers would find it entertaining.

hou1984
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posted 11-11-2007 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hou1984   Click Here to Email hou1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow! I had never heard of Mr. King until I saw this post. However, I did a Google search on him, and apparently he's an appraiser in that part of Colorado.

spaceman1953
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From: South Bend, IN United States of America
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posted 11-20-2007 07:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Gus Grissom took a roll of dimes up into orbit in his capsule...
"into orbit" ...but, of course, that capsule never did nor was ever meant to go "into orbit".

MrSpace86
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From: Gardner, KS, USA
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posted 11-21-2007 01:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope this is not taken the wrong way, but I really could care less if my astronaut autographs are worth something or not. I do not collect with the purpose of some day selling them when they are 'worth' something. I collect for myself, because to me many of my pieces priceless.

I like to collect signed items (not just astronauts) of people that have somehow inspired or entertained me in a positive manner. If my entire collection is worth $1, $1000, or $1 million, so be it. I do not collect for monetary value.

MCroft04
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From: Smithfield, Me, USA
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posted 11-21-2007 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MrSpace86:
I collect for myself, because to me many of my pieces priceless.
Well said! I bet there are many out there with the same philosophy. You can't place a value on the inspiration I get from gazing at a signed picture of Wally (or Buzz, Gene, Valentina, Alexei, etc) on my study wall and the memories that go along with it. Priceless!!!!

mjanovec
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posted 11-21-2007 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Value can be measured so many ways. King is only looking at autographs from the standpoint of monetary value (and even then he's wrong because he's ignored the market value of many signatures in the field). Like Rodrigo points out, value can be measured in other ways, such as the personal value of having a connection to one of the early space pioneers.

The fact that NASA has been using the autopen machine since the 1960s shows that these signatures do have a "value" with the public. And while the monetary value has only increased in relatively recent years for some astronauts, the intrinsic value of holding a signature from one of the pioneering astronauts has always been there.

kyra
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posted 11-27-2007 11:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. This sounds like someone who is somewhat experienced being interviewed by a first year reporter.

For example, Russian items are compared to "beans". At the going rate of pinto beans ($1 pound) it would take about 15 tons to buy a flown Sokol suit

That is a silly comparison, but my point is that in order to understand this market it takes a more in depth study to represent it in such a way that the end result is a responsible article. Gathering the opinions of one appraiser is going to slant the article.

Dave Clow
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From: South Pasadena, CA 91030
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posted 11-30-2007 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Clow   Click Here to Email Dave Clow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always find this aspect of our hobby particularly interesting, and though I don't know who this King fellow is, he might indeed have a point. Our hobby is expanding rapidly and the sheer numbers of autographed items around have expanded along with it, so the issues of supply and rarity aren't really issues any longer. Getting some signatures is a matter of one-click shopping on any of several Web sites. Getting multi-signed items used to be hard; now it's as easy as attending one of the autograph shows. The question of long-term value might not be important for some collectors, and more power to the ones who do it for love and to meet the heroes. For others, though, it's important that the investment be regarded as just that--an investment--and like any investment, appreciation matters.

We're extremely fortunate to be around during a time when these great achievers are available for meeting and signing. We don't want it to happen that our beloved collections end up in Goodwill because they're considered common. If, in addition to priceless experience of meeting a Bean and a Mitchell we can build something worth passing on to our heirs, then we'll be making the most of this lucky opportunity.

mjanovec
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From: Midwest, USA
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posted 11-30-2007 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Clow:
I always find this aspect of our hobby particularly interesting, and though I don't know who this King fellow is, he might indeed have a point. Our hobby is expanding rapidly and the sheer numbers of autographed items around have expanded along with it, so the issues of supply and rarity aren't really issues any longer.

While you make a good point in relation to autographs of living astronauts who are regularly available to sign, one must also consider the supply and demand of signatures for non-signing astronauts (like Armstrong) or deceased astronauts (like Grissom). If the hobby truly is growing, then demand for these signatures is growing as well, resulting in an appreciation in value.

Of the 43 flown M-G-A era astronauts, roughly half sign regularly or semi-regularly. The other half either don't sign, are deceased, or sign infrequently (or sign at a price that keeps supply in check).

I don't think the values of signatures of frequent signers will necessarily drop. The fact is, they continue to sign to meet the current (and apparently growing) demand. While the hobby will experience fluctuations in numbers of participants and overall demand, signatures will continue to hold some value...even for the "common" ones.

However, the rule of "collect what you like" should always apply. So that if prices do nosedive someday, you'll still have items that YOU appreciate and enjoy.

onesmallstep
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posted 11-30-2007 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I attended the signing by Carpenter and Duke at the Tourneau watch store in New York yesterday, and I was struck by how readily both astronauts would sign anything put before them (I couldn't vouch for philatelic items, but I saw posters, lithos, mission patches and books).

It was well organized, and they even provided free glossies of themselves. I took advantage of this, because I rarely attend such events so I don't have a stock of astronaut photos on hand. I accepted an inscribed photo from each, rather than a plain signature (I'm not thinking ahead to selling them).

My point is, since both gentlemen were compensated by Omega for their appearance, it would stand to reason that any 'value' attached to their signatures depends on the collector or the market; I have not attended any of the commercial autograph shows so I wouldn't know how they compare to astronauts who do charge and sign regularly, either in person or thru the mails.

I am mainly a collector of ephemera and books on spaceflight (newspapers, lithos, fact sheets and now internet printouts) so for me the autographs are just a tiny part of my archive. However, there is one treasure that stands above them all: a 2 1/2 X 2 1/2" card with the Apollo 11 logo, and signed by the crew plus Pres. Jimmy Carter and his White House staff on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the moon landing. Priceless? You bet.

TerryKing
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posted 07-22-2013 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for TerryKing   Click Here to Email TerryKing     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow! I came across this stuff making certain that people could actually find me.

First, as much as I like the 4th estate they can really get it wrong. The guy in the back of the room scribbling away never spoke to me and I never saw the article.

Please everyone, I value aerospace as much as you do and things have gone off the rails on this newspaper article. I can only assume he was referring to the autographed photo (with flag, LEM and Snoopy) that Jim Irwin gave me in 1990. I often use it to illustrate the scale of value for collectibles; hundreds, thousands, millions.

If anyone knowledgeable, like you all are would like to see my own writing on US and Soviet space artifacts give me a holler at terryrayking@hotmail.com, and I'll share them. THAT you may disagree on but at least it will be disagreeing with the real person.

TerryKing
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posted 07-22-2013 05:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for TerryKing   Click Here to Email TerryKing     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One other thing, please put collectSPACE in the subject so it won't go to junk. I really do want to hear from you.

As an aside, working with Jim Irwin just before he passed was a treat and we got along well. It served me well when I worked with Jim Lovell on the Adler donation and to the best of my knowledge he knows who I am and still likes me.

I will be happy to send you copies of the narratives on my appraisals for Lovell and of the Berkut and EVA collar that I did for another museum (they cite collectSPACE as a great resource). They are part of an expanded article I wrote for the profession and do not betray confidences that they shouldn't or, in the case of Lovell, approved.

If you would like, I'll send a CV so you can see why I think I'm so smart.

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