Neil Armstrong $35,258 'Buzz Aldrin' Moon photo doubles estimate in London

Here's a look at Bloomsbury Auctions' sale of vintage NASA photographs, last week (November 3).  In the words of the auctioneer, the sale was: "Britain's first specialist sale of photographs showing how man landed on the Moon."

Historic, rare and iconic vintage photographs were the order of the day - many of which had been taken by the astronauts themselves and printed within days of their return to Earth.

Many had estimates ranging from £200-£800 each for the standard-sized prints and £2,000-£10,000 for the larger examples. But you can't keep a good collectible's value down, especially with the calibre of some of the photographs for sale.

Among the most iconic pieces was this famous 1969 portrait of Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface, as taken by his crewmate and first man on the Moon Neil Armstrong. The Apollo 11 Lunar Module is clearly reflected in Aldrin's gold-plated visor


Neil Armstrong Portrait of Buzz Aldrin
NASA negative number "AS11-40-5903": sold for £22,000 in London, last week

Marked with NASA negative number "AS11-40-5903" this photograph ended up selling for more than double its £8,000 - £10,000 pre-sale estimate in the London sale. In the end, it brought £22,000 ($35,258) including buyer's premium.

The photograph will make a fine addition to the lucky buyer's collection and, being an original NASA copy, could grow in value in future years. Of course having an original NASA-catalogued photo is one thing - but how about owning the same image autographed by Buzz Aldrin himself?

What's more, imagine owning it for a fraction of the price: just £995. We currently have a signed copy of the same Aldrin portrait at Paul Fraser Collectibles, showing the second man on the Moon stood on the surface he famously likened to "Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation."

His autograph reads: "Buzz Aldrin, Apollo XI" on the 8 x 10 inches photograph (pictured below).

Meanwhile, space autographs - particularly those signed by the world's most valuable living signature, Neil Armstrong - continue to go from strength-to-strength on the collectors' markets. The average value of an Armstrong signature has risen by 981.8% over the last 11 years.

As with Bonhams' previously blockbuster space auctions (which have so-far coincided with anniversaries linked to Apollo 11 and Apollo 13), big anniversaries can often help auctioneers to market their sales - and encourage bidders to push collectibles to high values.

Bloomsbury's sale also had a special date in mind: this is year is the 50th anniversary of manned space flight. With upcoming Heritage and I M Chait sales scheduled (the former is happening later this month with I M Chait's in December), the space markets show no signs of slowing down.

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