'Most important piece of Apollo 11 memorabilia ever offered' goes up for sale

Coin specialists Ira and Larry Goldberg make a welcome return to the space memorabilia markets next month. The auction follows on swiftly from a general collectibles sale they are holding which looks quite interesting. But the space collectibles need one of their own.

The flag planting on the Apollo 11 mission

Indeed it looks as if there should be something for every collector on offer as the 700 lots cover everything from the early rockets through the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo missions to the present day, including stamp lots and Russian cosmonaut memorabilia.

But there is one lot in particular which everyone is particularly excited about. Indeed the auctioneer makes the very bold claim that it is "undoubtedly the most important Apollo 11 piece of memorabilia ever offered".

In 1967, the United States signed the United Nations Space Treaty that said, in effect: Outer Space, including the Moon, could not be claimed (by a country) because of an occupation or other means".

This meant that a US flag could not be planted on the Moon after Apollo 11 landed. No plans were made by NASA in planning the mission to plant a US flag on the lunar surface.

Shortly before the Apollo 11 mission, a committee modified this conclusion and recommended that the astronauts should plant a US flag on the moon to mark America's achievement, without implying ownership.

The flag would be accompanied by a country-neutral plaque, 'claiming' the Moon on behalf of the whole world.

Thomas S (Tom) Moser, who consigned the lot, was given the responsibility of designing flag and pole such that they could be carried easily to the Moon, assembled and successfully planted.

Apollo 11 flag fragments
The Apollo 11 plaque and flag fragments signed by Neil Armstrong

There were necessarily offcuts from this flag, most of which were simply discarded. But Moser kept hold of a slim set of red, white and blue cloth, which appears here attached to a presentation plaque, accompanied by photographs of the flag-planting.

As an added bonus Moser's near neighbour of the time, a certain Neil Armstrong, signed the plaque soon after the mission. His signature has increased in value rather a lot in recent times, as the PFC40 index notes.

The flag fragments appear in Ira and Larry Goldberg's auction on July 10 in Los Angeles, California with a listing of $100,000-150,000, and will make someone an incredible investment.


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