Why space collectors are getting more excited than normal...

These are exciting days for space collectors.

Last September Barack Obama signed the bill that enabled NASA astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programmes to have full ownership of the space artefacts they pocketed as souvenirs.

The new law ended months of wrangling between NASA and its space pioneers, most notably Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, whose attempt to auction a vital checklist from the mission was halted after NASA had disputed his right to ownership.

Apollo 11 command module rotation handle
Apollo 11's command module rotation handle is auctioning this month

The ruling states that the astronauts now officially own any items they acquired as mementoes that were "not expressly required to be returned" by NASA at the time of the missions, with the exception of lunar rocks.

The pieces in question will generally be disposable items, such as Buzz Aldrin's toothbrush, which made $22,705 at Heritage Auctions last month, or those that were originally intended to be jettisoned in space or on the Moon.

With the ambiguity gone over ownership rights, remaining members of the three programmes will have free rein to sell their artefacts - should they wish.

And not only that.

It will also give those members of the public who have previously bought space memorabilia from astronauts' collections, or indeed are thinking of buying items, the peace of mind that they will not have their artefacts claimed back by NASA.

It all means that we could be set to see an increase of hugely important and personal items coming on the market over the next months and years.

Are prices set to fall?

You might be thinking this will dilute the market, causing prices to drop.

I'm of the opinion that such is the appetite among collectors for space flown memorabilia that values will remain strong - in fact, an influx of incredible items at auctions around the world could well heighten the allure of the entire space memorabilia sector.

May looks set to be a thrilling month for space buyers.

In addition to Regency Superior's May 24 auction of an Apollo engine, RR Auction's Space and Aviation sale from May 16 to 23 looks set to be a real cracker, with several items consigned that this time last year would have had a cloud of uncertainty hanging over them.

They include an Apollo 11 flight plan page annotated by all three crew members and an Apollo 11 command module rotation handle.

We will be bringing you a full preview of the sale later this week in our Space News section.

In the meantime, why not check out our own collection of space memorabilia for sale?

Until next week,


Paul Fraser

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