Titanic and Apollo Space Items for I.M. Chait Natural History Auction

. December 5, 2009

The story of the Titanic, says Dr. Charles Pellegrino, is like a “tragedy written by God with Shakespeare as his muse.” Dr. Pellegrino, one of only 6 people to enter the submerged Titanic (albeit it accidentally), is a scientist whose collection of Titanic expedition artifacts will be featured in I.M. Chait’s December 13 Natural History auction.

Nearly 100 years after the sinking of the “unsinkable” ocean liner, the human drama played out in cold North Atlantic waters continues to resonate. Walter Lloyd’s best selling book, “A Night to Remember,” was so detailed that it became a reference piece for Titanic hunters. This sale boasts the rarest copy of “A Night to Remember.”

The copy of “A Night To Remember, tagged Lot 71, has been on three Titanic expeditions since 1985. It sailed with Robert Ballard. It sailed with the French and Russian expeditions. It even made two dives to Titanic with submersible crews. As if that weren’t honor enough, “A Night to Remember” is extensively inscribed. Walter Lloyd’s notation provides proof that the book was on the Ballard Exhibition. The submersible crews also put pen to the pages, as did the Titanic’s last survivor, Malvina Dean.
The catalog estimate is $13,000 – $15,000, but it’s anyone guess as to how high the bidding will go.

Other fascinating Titanic items include Lot 84, a fossilized hull sample that fell away from the region of the first major crack inflicted by the iceberg. It carries a $12,000 – $15,000 catalog estimate. Lot 85 is two-piece sample set from the railing at Titanic’s #8 lifeboat davit. Preserved by complete rusticle encroachment and fossilization, it will not deteriorate further. The set is expected to command as much as $15,000.

An unusually well traveled American Express card (Lot 87) will also be sold. The platinum card and contents of a wallet carried by Dr. Pellegrino on two Titanic dives and into forbidden zones at New York City’s Ground Zero are estimated at a high of $4,500. A portion of the proceeds from Titanic items will be dedicated to the New York Firefighter’s Burn Center.

The auction also features United States space program artifacts Dr. Pellegrino collected while studying the design and construction of Apollo Lunar Modules. Space buffs will find everything from original taped interviews used to write “Chariots for Apollo” (Lot 40) to a first draft of the Apollo 13 chapter (Lot 68.) As if a cosmic coincidence, it is written in longhand in remaindered notebook titled “My Jedi Journal.”

Many of the items in this collection were referenced in the “Spider” episode of Tom Hanks’ “From the Earth to the Moon.” Still others are actual hands-on engineering schematics and models. Lot 51 is a Grumman Lunar Module Contractor’s model. It carries a $10,000 – $12,000 catalog estimate.

There are rare and almost unimaginable mechanical parts too. Lot 50 is a large leg section from an Apollo Lunar Module. Lot 64 is a well-thumbed (and well preserved) Apollo Operations Handbook that literally comprises part of the owner’s manual for LM-3 (Spider) and the Apollo 13 LM-7 (Aquarius.)

Besides the history-studded man made items, there are stellar lots from outer space and the Earth’s crust. A specimen from the Canyon Diablo Meteorite (Lot 194) affectionately dubbed “The Wishbone” because it forks and bends in unusual ways, may be the single most aesthetic meteorite found in North America and publicly available. Its estimate tops off at $140,000.

At the top-end of the minerals and crystals collection is Lot 102, a world-class, bubble-gum pink elbaite crystal cluster that flares off a large, slightly smoky quartz crystal. With extremely well documented provenance, the aesthetic gem is estimated at a high of $175,000.

Winding up the auction is an excellent collection of Fossil Mammals. Lot 233 is a fine saber-tooth cat skull of the Miocene era with wicked looking upper canines that measure as much as 6 inches around the curve. Showing relatively little burial distortion, the 15 inch long the skull is expected to bring at least $55,000.

With 318 remarkable and well-preserved examples of scientific origin and natural phenomenon, the I.M. Chait December 13 Natural History Auction is a winner. Collectors and history buffs interested in viewing Titanic expedition memorabilia, Apollo Mission artifacts and the naturally occurring specimen, should visit www.chait.com. For more information, call Joey Chait at 1-800-775-5020.

Category: Auction News

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