Investing in space and aviation memorabilia

The space race of the 1960s is among mankind's most remarkable achievements. It is little surprise that memorabilia connected with this time is hugely desirable, all around the world.

And when it comes to investing, it's the items connected with Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, and Apollo 11, of the first Moon landings, that are leading the way. Supply simply cannot meet demand.

Yet before the space race came the true pioneers of flight. Names such as the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. While their memorabilia does not command the same figures as Apollo 11, they are excellent investments in their own right.

Reasons to invest

Rarity: Space memorabilia is among some of the rarest and most desirable collectibles around. "The firsts", Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 will never be superseded. Space flown items from these missions are finite. Just 12 men have walked on the Moon. Only when we reach Mars will these items have any competition (best estimate 2035) on the market.

Growing demand

Baby Boomers: Those born between 1946 and 1964 own 80% of the world's wealth. The vast majority remember the space race and the Apollo missions fondly, providing the market with a demographic with the means and desire to buy collectibles.

Growing army of international collectors: It's not just Russians and Americans vying for the best pieces. Wealthy Chinese investors and those around the world are increasingly attracted to space memorabilia. The Apollo 11 Moon landings were watched by 500m people across the globe.

Market catalyst: The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landings in 2019 will provide a huge boost to the space memorabilia market. The sector will take a further leap forward when the mission's astronauts are no longer with us, leaving a fixed number of signed items behind.

Soaring prices: With limited, often finite numbers and growing demand comes rising prices - great news for investors looking to capitalise now. World record prices are continually being achieved.

Superb provenance: Many of the leading pieces come from the collections of the astronauts themselves, offering a great deal of security to investors.

Liquidity: A large number of annual auctions and an international demographic of buyers ensures good liquidity when you choose to sell.

Historical performance

o Space

In 2009 the navigation chart used on board Apollo 11 and the step-by-step instructions for the lunar module's descent to the Moon sold at Bonhams for $218,000 and $152,000, respectively.

Neil Armstrong stopped signing autographs in 1994, making the first man on the Moon's signature rare and highly sought.

According to the PFC40 Autograph Index, Armstrong's signature grew in value from £550 ($870) to £7,950 ($13,500) between 2000 and 2013.

The signatures of all three Apollo 11 astronauts together are more valuable still. They are worth £11,000 ($18,500) according to the index, having grown at a rate of 14.0% pa between 2000 and 2013.

In 2010, we sold a NASA boiler suit worn by Michael Collins following Apollo 11's recovery from the Pacific Ocean for £75,000 ($117,500).

The Vostok 3KA-2 space capsule, launched in a trial ahead of Yuri Gagarin's first manned orbit in 1961, became the world's most valuable piece of space memorabilia when it auctioned for $2.9m in 2011.

Apollo 17 Robins medals grew in value by 13.5% between 2008 and 2014, from $26,290 to $56,250.

o Aviation

The goggles once worn by the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart, sold for $17,775 in 2011.

One of three letters flown on board Charles Lindbergh's first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic sold for $155,000 in 1999, 7% pa up on the $35,000 achieved by the same letter in 1977.

A single signed photograph of the Wright Brothers made $17,000 in January 2013.

An archive of materials pertaining to the life of eccentric aviator Howard Hughes sold for $11,000 in November 2012.

Thinking of investing in space and aviation?

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