A one-of-a-kind 1970 autograph by astronaut Neil Armstrong, sold by a retired Peoria, IL newspaper editor, realized $38,838, almost five times its pre-auction estimate, as part of a$1+ million Space Exploration memorabilia event at Heritage Auctions
on Nov. 2, 2012.
The autograph was requested and received by Tom Pugh, at the time an Associate Editor of the Peoria Journal Star newspaper. It has been kept in the Pugh family for 41 years, along with copies of his correspondence to and from Armstrong, including a letter from Armstrong, on NASA letterhead, thanking Pugh. The piece was used as the cover art for the Weekender section of the newspaper on June 6, 1970.
It's not merely Armstrong's rare autograph that has attracted attention, however.
It's the only known instance where Armstrong completely wrote out and signed the famous first words he said or intended to fully say when he became the first person to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, said Michael Riley, Senior Historian at Heritage Auctions. Armstrong inscribed his signature: 'That's one small step for a man and one giant leap for mankind.' It's a unique piece of history and the intense interest and spirited bidding show just how unique it is.
Armstrong died this past August 25.
Further highlights from the auction, which included more than 275 lots, include an NGC MS68 Apollo 11 flown Robbins Medal originally from the Personal Collection of Mission CapCom Charlie Duke, Serial Number 189, realized $35,850. Gus Grissoms Apollo 1 Inflight Coverall jacket and trousers, which would have been worn by Grissom for the Apollo 1mission, realized $19,120, while an Apollo 12 Lunar Module ID plate from Intrepid, the second Lunar Module to land on the moon from the Personal Collection of Mission Commander Pete Conrad brought $31,070.
From astronaut Ed White II, who died alongside Grissom in the tragic Apollo 1launch pad test explosion, his West Point ring which White was likely wearing when he was killed brought $33,460.
A Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7) Flown One Dollar Bill, Signed by Alan Shepard and others, with Signed LOA from NASA, a Series 1957A $1 Silver Certificate, serial number A52804224A, which flew with Alan Shepard on his historic sub-orbital flight, May 5, 1961 one of just four such bills flown on the free worlds First Manned Space Flight proved popular with collectors to the tune of $33,460.
An Apollo 11 Lunar Module Flown LM G and N Dictionary PGNS-33/34 page, originally from the Personal Collection of Mission Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin a sheet from the Primary Guidance and Navigation Section (PGNS), a piece with critical flight procedure steps, realized $21,510.