Fifty lots were sold at an auction for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation this weekend, which was attended by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell, as we reported.
Some of these were for opportunities to go skydiving, or just for dinner with an astronaut, but most were for genuine collectibles, including flown memorabilia and autographs.
Among the flown items, three stood out.
A space shuttle tile which had notched up a total of 12 space flights in the space shuttle program from April 1985 onward sold for $9,950. It is seven by seven inches and still carries a faint NASA ID number on the back.
A large Stars and Stripes flag from the estate of Apollo 12's Richard Gordon, which went down to the moon with his crew members Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, was taken away for $15,045. The flag also had Gordon's autograph on an authenticating note.
The value of flown flags can be difficult to predict. Another flag which had travelled to the Moon on that same Apollo 12 mission sold for $5,185 in July, while a larger one which had merely flown on Apollo 10 sold for $19,520 at the same auction.
The pick of the lots though was clear: a Beta Cloth Patch flown with and signed by Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell. Lovell, who was present at the fundraiser, had an exceptional career as an astronaut, flying on the Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8 missions as well.
The cloth is made of the same material found on the outside of space suits (glass fibres coated with Teflon) and signed directly as well as accompanied by a letter of authenticity. The high regard Lovell is held in and the fame of the near-tragic Apollo 13 mission drove the price to $23,000.
Among the autographs, a print of the famous 'Earthrise' photo from Apollo 8, showing a view of the earth rising from the perspective of the Moon sold for $3,300, thanks to the signature of the photographer, astronaut Bill Anders.
This was dwarfed, however, by a print juxtaposing the earth and the moon signed by a full 22 astronauts from the Gemini, Mercury, Apollo, Skylab and Shuttle programs, including two moonwalkers.
The signers included: Charles Bolden, Vance Brand, Dan Brandenstein, Scott Carpenter, Jerry Carr, Bob Crippen, Walt Cunningham, Charlie Duke, Rick Hauck, Gordon Fullerton, Owen Garriott, Ed Gibson, Hoot Gibson, Richard Gordon, Fred Haise, Jack Lousma, Ken Mattingly, Bruce Melnick, Edgar Mitchell, Brewster Shaw, Loren Shriver and Al Worden.
The print sold for an impressive $20,000; the highlight of a successful sale, which will no doubt help a few more people towards flight through space.
If you missed the memorabilia sale, at Paul Fraser Collectibles we currently have our own highly sought-after space autographs.