Edgar Mitchell Moon Spacesuit Tag for Dallas Space Auction

. April 6, 2010

A cloth name tag that was a part of the spacesuit worn by Dr. Edgar D. Mitchell while he spent more than nine hours on the lunar surface during the Apollo 14 mission on Feb. 5-6, 1971, is the unrivaled centerpiece of Heritage Auctions’ April 21 Grand Format Space Exploration Auction live in Dallas and online at HA.com. It is estimated at $75,000+.

There have been only 12 men thus far into human history that have walked on the moon. Of their 12 spacesuit name tags, two – those of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin – are on permanent display in the Smithsonian, while Alan Bean fragmented his for use in his truly cosmic space art. That leaves nine extant, and on the rare occasion that these spacesuit name tags have ever sold, it’s almost always as part of a set of four including the name tag, a NASA logo patch, an American flag, and the mission insignia patch.

“The prices for these sets have reached $350,000 more than once,” said Michael Riley, Senior Cataloger and Chief Historian at Heritage Auctions. “It’s been a number of years since any other lunar surface-worn name tag has been offered to the public and it will likely be many more years before another becomes available. Clearly, this would be the centerpiece for any serious space collection.”

While there is little in space collecting that can rival a piece like Mitchell’s moon-worn name tag, the most astonishing astronaut-signed baseball Heritage has ever encountered, signed by fully 29 of America’s first 30 astronauts, is certainly a singular piece of important memorabilia. It is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

“It’s almost inconceivable that another ball such as this will ever be offered at auction,” said Riley. “Included in this remarkable assemblage are the first American in space, the first American in orbit, the first American to walk in space, all crewmembers of the Mercury and Gemini mission, eight of the 12 men that have walked on the moon – including the first five – and 14 of the 24 men that have flown to the moon. Altogether, these 29 astronauts flew on a total of 56 space missions.”

In the pantheon of American space heroes, none looms larger than the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, and no collectibles are more highly prized – or seen as rarely – as those relating to him. Erudite collectors of Space will be marveling, then, at a Neil Armstrong signed check, endorsed on the verso “FOR DEPOSTI ONLY/Neil A. Armstrong,” in which Armstrong uses his rarely seen middle initial, directly from the personal collection of Lola Morrow, the personal secretary and “Den Mother” to the American Astronauts.

The piece has been in Ms. Morrow’s collection for 45 years, is estimated at $3,000-$5,000, and is sure to be the subject of intense bidding. Included with the check is a handwritten, signed letter of authenticity from Ms. Morrow explaining that she wrote the check to Armstrong in exchange for the change from money he had given her to buy an alarm clock.

“It was almost time to close the Astronaut Office that Thursday when Neil stopped by at my desk,” it reads. “He wanted to know if I could pick up an alarm clock on my way home. After telling him that there was a Walgreens on my way home, he then handed me a twenty dollar bill. The next morning, I picked up the bag with the alarm clock & and rushed out to my car leaving the change on the table. I offered Neil my check for his change. I noted months later he finally cashed it. Neil did use his middle initial in signing at that time. If you were a good friend, he would just sign ‘Neil.’ After Apollo 11, it was easier to sign as Neil Armstrong.”

Buzz Aldrin has been making news lately for his unlikely dancing turn on a network television show, but the Heritage Space auction finds the famous astronaut back in more familiar extra-terrestrial territory with a grouping in the sale that comes right from the man himself. Among the pieces offered are an Apollo 11 Insurance Cover (estimate: $6,000-$8,000), a piece of Kapton foil from the Apollo 11 space module Columbia (estimate: $2,000-$3,000) and a flown Space Treaty, on “Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies,” also flown on Apollo 11 (estimate: $2,500-$3,500).

One of the most poignant and interesting sections of the auction comes in the form of a grouping of space memorabilia from the son of Ed White II, the first American spacewalker, aboard Gemini 4, who was killed in the Apollo 1 fire.

Included is a group of 150 Glass Slide featuring breathtaking views of Earth and the first American spacewalk, featuring photos taken by White himself (estimate: $8,000 – $10,000), a NASA Astronaut Group Two large color photo signed by a of the “New Nine,” (estimate: $8,000-$10,000) a stunning and rare assemblage of signatures of the first new group of astronauts chosen by NASA after the original “Mercury Seven,” and a Gemini 4 National Space Award Gold Medal and Citation presented by the VFW to White (estimate: $3,000-$4,000).

“All of the items featuring Ed White II have been in the personal possession of the family since he died in 1967,” said Riley. “Heritage is honored to have been chosen to offer these amazing pieces, and there’s little doubt that collectors will respond with enthusiasm to their release.”

Beyond these prime examples, the Heritage auction is also offering lots consigned to the auction directly from the collections of several other astronauts, or their family members, including Vance Brand, Ron Evans, S. David Griggs, James Lovell, David Scott, Paul Weitz, and John Young.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.

Category: Auction News

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