Top 5: Collectible astronauts
Neil Armstrong's death will see demand for his collectibles rise: Here's our top 5 collectible astronauts
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Tuesday 28 August 2012
One of the most in-demand autographs in the world, astronaut Neil Armstrong's death over the weekend is set to see values for his collectibles soar, as nostalgic buyers enter the sector.
Here Paul Fraser Collectibles looks at the five most collectible astronauts.
Prior to his death Neil Armstrong was the world's most valuable living signature - valued at £5,950 ($9,400) according to the PFC40 Autograph Index - due in part to his reluctance since 1994 to sign autographs.
His death will ensure a considerable rise in demand as a flood of nostalgic collectors and investors enters the market. Prices for Michael Jackson autographs rose by 60% in the year following his death. A similar increase for Armstrong is not out of the question, such is his iconic position as the first man on the Moon.
The astronaut who did it all. The first American in space, in 1961, he also commanded the Apollo 14 mission, during which he became the fifth man to walk on the Moon.
His prominent place in the history of space exploration ensures strong prices for his collectibles. A 1959 handwritten letter from Shepard to his parents, detailing his selection for a briefing on the Man in Space programme, sold for $106,228 in 2011.
The commander of the "successful failure" Apollo 13 mission, Lovell is one of the most undervalued autographs around.
The Apollo 13 mission is NASA's most famous after the first Moon landing of Apollo 11, yet you can pick up Lovell's signature for as little as $80. We expect a major market upswing in the near future, and the 50th anniversary of the mission in 2020 could well provide the catalyst.
Other areas of the mission's memorabilia have been more impressive. The notebook Lovell used to calculate Apollo 13's return to Earth sold for $388,375 in 2011.
Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin made history when his Vostok orbited the Earth on April 12, 1961, becoming the first man in space.
Although not in the same price bracket as the first man on the Moon Neil Armstrong, Gagarin's collectibles are rare, highly desirable and subsequently valuable - his early death in 1968 ensuring just a small amount of memorabilia exists.
A typescript from that first flight sold for $171,000 at Christie's in 2011, while Gagarin signed photographs can achieve up to £3,200 ($5,000).
A trial Vostok spacecraft, flown unmanned in space prior to the historic mission, sold for $2.9m at Sotheby's in April 2011.
The third member of the Apollo 11 crew, and the one who never made it to the Moon's surface. While you might expect Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon, to be more collectible than Collins, the sheer number of autographs Aldrin signs ensures that the considerable demand is well met.
The same cannot be said for Collins, who is far more reluctant to sign, and is therefore that much rarer. The 2019 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing should propel his and Apollo 11 memorabilia to a new level.
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