An Apollo 11 Flown American Flag Directly from The Armstrong Family Collection, CAG Certified soared to unexpected heights when it climbed to $275,000 to launch Heritage Auctions
Space Exploration Auction to $2,919,183 in total sales.
This flag exceeded all expectations, and effectively launched the results for the entire auction to new heights Heritage Auctions Space Exploration Director Michael Riley said. With must-have items, ranging from Robbins medallions to the estate of Alan Bean, one of the first men to walk on the moon, to a trove of astronaut-signed items, collectors of all levels came away from this event with prized keepsakes that they will enjoy for years to come.
The out-of-this-world result for the events top lot was 10 times higher than its pre-auction estimate. The 6-by-4-inch silk flag with a clear nylon border was carried to the moon and back aboard the Apollo Command Module Columbia, July 16-24, 1969. Mission-flown U.S. flags always are in demand by Space collectors but this one, preserved by the first man to step on the moon, is a significant relic of a historic event and was accompanied by a Statement of Provenance signed by Neil Armstrongs sons, Rick and Mark. The final price is the highest ever paid for a small-size flag, and ties the highest ever paid at Heritage Auctions for a much larger flag.
An Apollo 11 Lunar Module Flown Section of the Wright Flyer's Wing Fabric, Position #162, Flown as Part of the First Successful Powered Controlled Flight in History at Kitty Hawk in 1903 as well as the First Manned Lunar Landing in 1969, Directly from The Armstrong Family Collection, CAG Certified, more than quadrupled its pre-auction estimate when it rose to $125,000. Neil Armstrong was allowed to keep a portion of the cloth and propeller pieces for his own personal collection and carried it to Tranquility Base, the name of the Apollo 11 lunar landing site, July 20, 1969, meaning it was aboard the two most significant flights in the history of aviation.
A third lot reached six figures when an Apollo 11 Flown MS67 NGC Sterling Silver Robbins Medallion, Serial Number 429, Directly from The Armstrong Family Collection, CAG Certified more than doubled its pre-auction estimate at $106,250. The obverse depicts astronaut Michael Collins' early and original concept for the mission insignia with the eagle carrying an olive branch in its mouth. NASA thought the sharp, open talons of the eagle looked too "warlike" and the olive branch, representing peace, was moved to the claws.
An Apollo 14 Lunar Module Flown Exceedingly Rare Microform King James Bible Encased in a Beautiful Reliquary Containing 24 Karat Gold and Embellished with Jewels, with a Steve Zarelli Letter of Authenticity ended at $52,500. It is one of only 100 microform King James Bibles that were taken to the lunar surface as part of an initiative by the Apollo Prayer League to honor Apollo 1 astronaut Ed. White II, who planned to carry one but died with the crew in a flash fire on the launch pad January 27, 1967.
A Set of Chris Kraft's Personal Security Badges for Apollo 6-17, with Additional Signed Photo, Directly from His Estate, with Certificate of Authenticity, soared to $42,500 a full 85 times the pre-auction estimate. The collection includes 16 laminated badges represent each mission (some had multiple badges). Kraft, who died in 2019, was NASA's first Flight Director, directed all of the Mercury missions, was head of missions operations for Project Gemini, was crucial in the success of Apollo and even oversaw the development of the Space Shuttle program. He is credited with creating the concept of NASA's Mission Control
which now bears his name.
The auction included more than 80 items from the Estate of Moonwalker and Astronaut Alan Bean. Among the highlights from Beans collection were:
· An Apollo 12 Lunar Module Flown and Lunar Surface Used Garland Mechanical Pencil, from Alan Bean's Personal Collection, with His Original Handwritten Letter of Authenticity, which reached $52,500, a record price for a space-flown mechanical pencil. This 5.125-inch chrome-colored Garland model 35-P mechanical pencil was made by Lew Manufacturing Co. of Coventry, Rhode Island, the pencil is still functional.
· Bean's Rare "Mercury Spacecraft" McDonnell Lithograph Signed by the Six Astronauts who Flew in the Program, with Certificate of Authenticity, drew 27 bids before finishing at $32,500, more than quadrupling its pre-auction estimate.
· An Apollo 12 Lunar Module Flown University of Texas Flag and Embroidered Mission Insignia Patch in Framed Display that Hung in Alan Bean's Office brought a winning bid of $21,500, more than three times its pre-auction estimate.
· Bean's Prestigious Yuri A. Gagarin 18K Gold Medal Awarded by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in 1973, from His Personal Collection, closed at $20,000. The award was established by the FAI in 1968 in honor of Astronaut Yuri A. Gagarin, who performed the first space flight by man on the 12th of April 1961.
· His Apollo 12 Lunar Module Flown: Alan Bean's Own University of Texas 1955 Bachelor of Science 10K Gold Class Ring reached $18,750. It accompanied the fourth man to walk on the moon inside the Apollo 12 Lunar Module Intrepid Nov. 19-20, 1969.
Collectors swarmed to lots authentic autographed items, including:
· An Early NASA Group Photo Signed by All Seven Mercury Astronauts: $35,000
An Apollo 17 "Blue Marble" Original NASA "Red Number" Color Photo, AS17-148-22727, Signed by Photographer Ron Evans: $10,625
Other top lots in the auction included, but were not limited to:
· An Apollo 12 Flown American Flag in Mat Signed by Hundreds, Presented by the Flight Control Division to Chris Kraft and Originally from His Personal Collection: $37,500
· A Neil Armstrong Uninscribed Signed White Spacesuit Color Photo Directly from The Armstrong Family Collection, CAG Certified: $15,000
· An Apollo 12 Flown Framed Larger-Size American Flag on Crew-Signed Mat, Originally from the Alan Bean Family Collection, Signed and Certified by Mission Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean, in Framed Display: $37,500
· An Alan Bean Original 1983 Painting "Red Ribbons" Acrylic on Masonite: $37,500