The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's 10th annual auction was highlighted on November 3 by the sale of a Mercury 7 signed art print.
The auction was held by the foundation so that it can continue to support budding astronauts across the United States, with over $3.5m in scholarships awarded since its inception. The organisation was founded in 1984 by the Mercury 7 as the Mercury Seven Foundation.
The Mercury 7 were America's first astronauts and they remain the only group to have members that flew on all classes of NASA manned orbital spacecraft.
The print is a brilliant representation of a rocket launch, which was hand-signed by the Mercury 7 astronauts to inaugurate the foundation. Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Deke Slayton, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper are all present, as is Betty Grisson, who signed on behalf of her late husband, Gus Grissom.
Items with signatures from all of the Mercury 7 astronauts are considerably rare.
All crew had signed in pencil below their painted mission patches. Their portraits appear faintly painted in the rocket's exhaust plume. Painted using archival methods and materials, the work sold for $4,611.
Also selling well was a launch photograph of Mercury-Atlas 6 from 1962. It had been signed by John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. Glenn and his back-up pilot Carpenter were the first American astronauts to orbit the Earth, Carpenter achieving the feat with Mercury-Atlas 7 later the same year.
The photograph was enhanced by Carpenter's famous words to Glenn, "Godspeed John Glenn", inscribed by Carpenter himself, as well as bold signatures from both astronauts. Also included was a Mercury-Atlas Friendship 7 patch, bringing the final price to $4,200.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb range of space memorabilia currently available, which includes one of the most important pieces of Apollo 11 memorabilia available on the private market.