Space-post scandal: controversial envelope flown aboard Apollo 15 is for sale

A space-flown cover has come up for sale online. That's always exciting news if you're a collector of space memorabilia. But this one comes with more of a twist in the story.

The cover is one of 398 that were flown to the lunar surface on Apollo 15. Originally 100 covers were requested to be flown to the Moon by H Walter Eiermann who was acting on behalf of German Stamp dealer, Hermann Sieger.

The crew agreed in return for a trust fund of $7,000 being set up for each Astronaut in a Swiss Bank Account. The crew also wanted to carry a further 300 covers for themselves, but 2 were destroyed before the flight, making the total number of covers flown 398.

The covers were not listed in the crew's preference kits, but instead carried in the pocket of Dave Scott's space suit. Once back from the moon and while on the USS Okinawa the crew added the twin 8c stamps and had the covers cancelled and date stamped at the on-board ship's post office, they then signed the covers on the flight from Hawaii back to Houston.

Apollo 15 flown cover
Apollo 15 flown cover

Of the total 398 covers, 100 were sent to Hermann Sieger and the remaining 298 were kept by the Apollo 15 Crew. It had been agreed that no covers be sold until after the completion of the Apollo program, but Sieger started selling his 100 covers almost immediately at $1,500 each.

When the crew heard about the sale, they tried to retrieve the covers from Sieger, but were unsuccessful and so tried to save their reputations by returning the $7,000.

However a Congressional investigation wanted to make an example of the astronauts and so NASA had no choice but to suspend them from flight status. NASA also confiscated the 298 covers.

In 1983 Al Worden successfully had the 298 covers returned to the crew after suing the United States federal government when similar covers were to be flown on the Space Shuttle. It is thought that had the crew declared the covers in the first place then there would have been no problem.

This cover is one of the 298 that belonged to the crew and comes with a letter of provenance which they supplied with each cover. It is currently on sale to collectors and investors for $10,995.

 

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