Last week, a piece of the Apollo 15 lunar landing module sold for $610,063 - a new world record for US space memorabilia.
I could hardly believe what I was hearing.
$610,063 is a fair amount for the spring-loaded hand controller, but I'm surprised the record price for NASA memorabilia is so low. Especially considering the overall record is held by the Soviet Vostok 3KA-2 at $2.9m.
As recently as the start of May, a Soviet VA space capsule made $1.3m at auction in Brussels.
So what does this tell us about the market for US space memorabilia?
Firstly, it tells us the market is undervalued.
Compared to any other memorabilia market, prices for US space artefacts simply can't compete:
· $2.3m - record price for music memorabilia, held by John Lennon's Rolls-Royce
· $5.6m - record price for movie memorabilia, held by Marilyn Monroe's 'Subway Dress'
· $4.4m - record price for sports memorabilia, held by Babe Ruth's first Yankees jersey
$610,063 seems pretty low for a market that celebrates one of humankind's greatest achievements. In my opinion, Neil Armstrong is as much an icon as Lennon, Monroe or Ruth.
The collector base is strong in space memorabilia, with space buffs making for some of the most dedicated collectors I've ever met.
The money is certainly available, with the likes of Richard Branson, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk (the inspiration for Iron Man's Tony Stark) all involved in space exploration.
Bezos even spent millions to pluck two Apollo-era engines from the ocean floor recently. Yet the record price for Apollo memorabilia remains at $610,063.
Secondly, the new record is an indication of the rarity of US space memorabilia.
Something tells me that the record price for ex-NASA items would be a lot higher if any truly exceptional artefacts had ever made it to auction.
The Soviet Vostok 3KA-2 is a prototype of the capsule that first blasted Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961. Imagine how much the NASA equivalent would fetch if it appeared for public sale!
Yet it never will; most of the memorabilia from NASA's early missions and the Apollo flights is safely tucked away in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and will not be up for sale any time soon.
Disappointing, I know. But it's great news for those of us that already own NASA collectibles.
The supply of NASA space-flown material has been capped by the recent announcement that, after 30 years of achievement, the organisation has ended its space shuttle program. NASA will still be working in space, but not in the same pioneering, iconic way that shaped human spaceflight.
Combine that with the fact that very few items are available to private collectors and you have a recipe for appreciating value. Collectors will continue to compete for the scant selection of memorabilia available to them, driving prices upwards as opportunity grows slimmer.
Thirdly, the record price tells us to get on board the US space memorabilia market now.
Do you really think that the record for US space memorabilia will still be at $610,063 when the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 2019?
Not for a minute.
Widely regarded as one of the most important, most iconic moments of the 20th century, the world will turn its attention to the Moon landing for the half-century celebrations, just as it did back in 1969.
New collectors will join the market, investing in their nation's history. The excitement will drive prices up, just like in any other collectibles market.
Simply put, if I was to suggest one market worth buying into it would be US Apollo-era memorabilia. No other sector has quite the potential for profit as this one.
Check out the array of space memorabilia for sale with Paul Fraser Collectibles.
Thanks for reading,
Paul Fraser Collectibles