'Spectacular' Alan Shepard letter soars to World Record price at RR's space auction
The first American in space told his parents that he was to be considered for the 'Man in Space' program
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Thursday 29 September 2011
RR Auction's much anticipated space sale concluded last week and now the final prices have been released.
One of the most notable lots was certainly a letter written by pioneering astronaut and moonwalker Alan Shepard to his parents concerning his becoming one of the very first astronauts.
|Interview with Alan Shepard, the first American in space|
The three page long letter, dated January 29, 1959 opens "Dear Mother and Daddy." It continues: "Thanks so much for your recent note, Daddy. I appreciate also you sharing the commission on my insurance premiums.
"We are enjoying our time here very much and like the new addition to our house. It makes it much more livable. Room for guests—so come on down! Present plans are to be up for Ann's wedding in April. No details as yet but will keep you posted.
"I am driving to Washington this afternoon for a briefing and for consideration in the 'Man in Space' program. I am letting you know right away since I am not sure how much publicity or press releases will be involved.
"Basically, about 100 of the country's top pilots have been selected to go to Washington to be briefed on the plans for putting a man in space sometime during 1961. We are to be given a chance to volunteer for or reject the opportunity after the briefing.
"Thereafter, all volunteers will go through a rigorous elimination process until a handful are selected. The entire program of space travel is a fascinating subject and I'm very pleased to be associated with it!
"I assure you that I will analyse the entire picture based on my past flight experience. I intend to do it very carefully of course—and will most certainly volunteer for it. There is no reason for expression of fear but merely gratitude to be considered for this very important contribution to science and the country.
"Will keep you posted. Please make no announcements or statements at this time should the occasion arise or even if it doesn't arise! My love to you both."
The letter was offered together with the original mailing envelope addressed in Shepard's hand to "Mr. & Mrs. Alan B. Shepard, East Derry, New Hampshire." It has some very light, all-but-invisible toning, very subtle variation to the tone of the ink in several places, and a touch of very mild handling wear.
These trivial flaws proved to be no deterrent whatsoever to collectors, who fired the bids all the way up to a world record price of $106,228.
Bobby Livingstone of RR enthused, "We were thrilled that our 2nd space themed auction netted over $1.15 million, led by a world record price for the Alan Shepard handwritten letter.
"It was a spectacular letter written at the dawn of the Mercury 7 program and it's great to see that sophisticated clients recognize its value."
Recent and related articles
· Flown in space with Neil Armstrong: rare St Gaudens gold coin goes to auction | 12 September 2011
· Apollo 11 space hero Buzz Aldrin 'left with only his clothes, car and home' | 15 August 2011
Guides and analysis
Images: RR Auction