Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Apollo artifacts anchor Heritage Auctions’ Space event 550-lot auction, April 18, features space artifacts landed on lunar surface from all Apollo moon missions; key pieces from Mercury and Gemini missions; Neil Armstrong’s boyhood red toy airplane
News-Antique.com - Apr 02,2013 - DALLAS – The Steven R. Belasco Collection of Space Memorabilia, featuring more than 300 lots of some of the rarest and most desirable Space Exploration memorabilia to ever surface at public auction, will be the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions’ 550-lot strong April 18 Space Exploration Signature® Auction.
“The Belasco Collection is a tribute to the incredible prowess of its collector,” said Michael Riley, Senior Historian and Chief Cataloger for Space Exploration at Heritage. “He was as well-known and as dedicated a collector as any of us ever encountered. We felt it fitting to include it in a separate catalog and session as a permanent tribute to him.”
The space artifacts Belasco managed to purchase in his 13 years of space collecting span the American moments of NASA, covering the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions exhaustively, including a significant grouping of items that flew to the moon’s surface during one of the manned Apollo missions, the pinnacle of desirability for collectors. One of the jewels of this grouping is a wrist mirror that Charlie Duke wore around the right wrist of his space suit during all 20+ hours of his Lunar Rover EVAs on Apollo 16, estimated at $20,000+.
“Duke also used the wrist mirror as a watchband on the moon,” said Riley. “It’s visible in several surface photos from the mission.
Two of the key pieces in Belasco’s collection are already creating a stir with top collectors: Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 Lunar Module flown toothbrush and sleeve, a light blue toothbrush originally from Aldrin himself, is expected to bring $18,000+ and a superbly evocative Gemini 12 flown EVA-used flashlight, also originally from Aldrin’s collection, is expected to bring $10,000+. The brass flashlight is still wrapped in Velcro and features a distorted lens.
“The distortion of the lens on this flashlight is attributed by Aldrin himself to the vacuum of space,” said Riley. “To the best of our knowledge at Heritage, this is the only Gemini flashlight that has come to the auction market.”
The many space collectors with interest in the philatelic side of space memorabilia – an area near and dear to Mr. Belasco’s heart – will find several prime examples in the top offerings, including an Apollo 11 flown and crew-signed commemorative cover (estimate: $30,000+), originally from Buzz Aldrin’s collection, that spent time in earth quarantine with the crew, and a 1928-dated Airmail cover signed by Orville Wright that flew to the moon on Apollo 15 (estimate: $5,000+), with a letter from Al Worden attesting to its authenticity.
Several lots will intrigue both space collectors and numismatic collectors, including a $1 bill that flew on Gemini 3 (estimate: $3,000+) and a $2 bill that flew on Gemini 4 (estimate: $2,000+). Astronaut Jim McDivitt, commander of Gemini 4, also flew at least two $2½ gold quarter eagles on that mission: a 1907 Liberty Head (Coronet) (estimate: $3,000+) as well as a 1910 Indian Head (estimate: $3,000+). Robbins Medals also figure prominently in Belasco’s collection, led by Wally Schirra’s complete