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  Alan Shepard signing on the day of Freedom 7?

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Author Topic:   Alan Shepard signing on the day of Freedom 7?
stsmithva
Member

Posts: 1423
From: Fairfax, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 04-14-2013 10:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a close-up of the inscription and autograph on an Alan Shepard photo I recently obtained:

It's a bit small on the right side, but please note the date: 5/5/61. That's May 5, 1961: the day he became the first American in space.

At first I thought there was a good chance that he was just writing (at some point afterwards) the date he had accomplished such an amazing thing. I thought the photo showed him on that day. But then I saw this lot in the Heritage auction this week. It's a book indeed signed by Shepard on that date, which shows that he was signing autographs on that rather busy day.

Does anyone recognize the photo (sorry it's not the whole thing) as showing him on the day of the mission, which would mean it wasn't possibly signed that day? Or is it a training photo? Has anyone heard of him signing items on the day of his Mercury mission? Has anyone by any chance ever heard of Alfons Ferdinand Kohler, who apparently was a/the barber for the Mercury 7 astronauts? (A couple of the other astronauts also signed photos to him.) Did Shepard stop by for an early morning trim, or make sure he was looking his sharpest on the recovery ship? Any other comments or questions about this piece?

gliderpilotuk
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Posts: 3127
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 04-15-2013 03:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice piece, Steve. I have one, maybe two, pieces signed with the date of the mission, but the date is written in full, ie May 5th 1961 and it is written below his signature, which to me indicates that it was simply a later reference to his mission.

The image you show is referred to by NASA as "Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. sits in his Freedom 7 Mercury capsule, ready for launch." (NASA Image of the Day Gallery page for May 5, 1961).

I'm intrigued by yours, as the format and placement (directly after the inscription) are unusual, yet it is highly unlikely that the photo was ready same day!

stsmithva
Member

Posts: 1423
From: Fairfax, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 04-15-2013 05:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Highly unlikely" in this case being the polite way of saying "Ain't no way!" OK, he was definitely referring to the date the photo was taken. Would have been nice, but hey, First Space Barber!

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 28757
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-15-2013 07:18 AM     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 gliderpilotuk:
The image you show is referred to by NASA as "Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. sits in his Freedom 7 Mercury capsule, ready for launch." (NASA Image of the Day Gallery page for May 5, 1961).
Not that it changes the date of when the photo was taken, but the NASA Image of Day shot is different (compare where Shepard is looking).

Steve's photo is 61-MR3-86, which Apollo Mission Photos describes as:

View of Astronaut Alan Shepard inside the Freedom 7 spacecraft (Mercury Capsule #7) in preparation of the Mercury-Redstone-3 flight. This shot was taken just before his hatch was sealed during final countdown at Launch Pad 5 at the Cape.

mjanovec
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Posts: 3622
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 04-29-2013 07:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have seen several Shepard signed items with "5/5/61" added to them. Those items are almost always images taken during that historic day (either suit-up photos, ingress photos, launch photos, or recovery photos). The presence of the date should not be taken as an indication that item was signed on the day in question.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 1940
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 04-29-2013 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a Shepard/MR-3 "flight-day" signed and inscribed/dated "5/5/61" item in the upcoming RR space auction next month! It was signed by America's first spaceman when he was at Grand Bahama Island in the afternoon hours of May 5, 1961.

Check it out on RR's website announcing the upcoming May 2013 aviation and space auction.

There is another related item, not in the auction, that has been signed the next day on May 6 by Shepard, Grissom, and Glenn. It's a signed Grand Bahama promotional money ticket with an added date of "5/6/61" by Glenn.

As far as I know, this may be another of two known such items (see first paragraph) actually hand-signed by the Freedom 7 astronaut-pilot only a few short hours after his splashdown and recovery from the Atlantic Ocean.

Are there any other "for sure" flight-day signed items by Shepard?

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