Mail from the Moon: Commemorative cover flown on Apollo 11 leads space sale

Heritage has finally posted the full range of space collectibles together with prices for their auction this month, and in amongst the top lots there are several pieces of unmissable memorabilia.

Unsurprisingly, some of the most exciting items are those relating to the first moonwalking mission, Apollo 11, so here's a look at some of the most covetable:

Firstly, there is volume one of an 'owner's manual' for the Eagle - that is a thousand page long copy of the Apollo 11 Grumman Apollo Operations Handbook - Lunar Module LM5 and Subsequent, Volume 1 Book. The latest date marked is June 15, 1969.

Apollo 11 Eagle manual diagram
Apollo 11 diagram from the 'owner's' manual for the Eagle
(Click to enlarge)

There are literally hundreds of illustrations and tables contained herein, along with dozens of foldout schematics and diagrams - for those with a technical interest in this historical mission, this book is a veritable treasure trove of information, and in very fine condition too.

Whilst the Eagle's manual was no doubt crucial in allowing the Apollo 11 crew to land on the moon, some of the other pieces in the sale actually made it there with them. These include an "Eagle" mission insignia and an American flag, both signed by moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.

The 4" x 4" swatch of Beta cloth displays the famous Eagle-landing mission emblem, beneath which Dr. Aldrin has written: "Flown to the Moon on Apollo 11/ 16-24 July 1969 Buzz Aldrin". It is in excellent condition, allowing for some fraying around the edges.

The 5.75" x 4" silk US flag has been signed by Dr. Aldrin on the lower two white stripes: "Flown to the Moon on Apollo 11/ 16-24 July 1969 Buzz Aldrin 6-6-86". Flown flags are always in demand, and as this is in excellent condition it represents an excellent investment.

Both items spent time in Aldrin's personal collection, and were handed over as a mark of gratitude by Aldrin to a friend in Poland when he stayed there on his way back from a trip to Moscow. Both items left his hands in June 1986 (as indicated on the flag).

All three of the above items are expected to sell for around $10,000-$15,000. But one Apollo 11 flown item is expected to leave these on the launch pad.

Triple-signed, flown Apollo 11 cover
Triple-signed, flown Apollo 11 cover
(Click to enlarge)

It is an Apollo 11 Crew-Signed Commemorative Cover, signed by Aldrin but also Neil Armstrong and the man whose collection it comes from, Michael Collins, who has also added "Carried to the moon aboard Apollo 11".

Affixed to the cover, which flew to the moon, is an 8¢ "Apollo 8" stamp (Scott #1371), with an August 11, 1969, cancellation at Webster, Texas. Stamped beneath the cancellation is the text: "Delayed In Quarantine At/ Lunar Receiving Laboratory/ M.S.C. - Houston, Texas".

Apollo 11 splashed down on earth on July 24 at which point, the equipment, and astronauts from the spacecraft were quarantined. As soon as this cover was released, it was taken to the nearest post office for cancellation, and this therefore must mark the zenith of space-related covers.

Expected to sell for $25,000-$30,000, it leads the sale which takes place in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, November 17.


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