Space-Flown Artifacts Certified by NGC and CAG Offered in Heritage Sale
Posted on 5/26/2020
Astronaut medals flown on several key missions during the Space Race and certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) are part of the latest space exploration-themed sale hosted by Heritage Auctions. Online bidding is now open for the sale, which concludes June 5, 2020.
The sale includes Part V of The Armstrong Family Collection™, which comprises thousands of artifacts saved by Neil Armstrong and his immediate family. The collection is entirely certified by Collectibles Authentication Guaranty (CAG), an NGC affiliate dedicated to helping collectibles achieve their full potential by preserving their authenticity and provenance. CAG-certified artifacts from The Armstrong Family Collection have realized more than $12 million to date.
Among the highlights of the June auction is a Gemini 8 Flown Fliteline Medal graded NGC MS 63 and certified by CAG as part of the Armstrong Family Collection. The opening bid is set at $2,500.
The medal accompanied astronaut Neil Armstrong on Gemini 8, his first mission to space. The March 1966 mission accomplished the first docking in space. But the two-person mission nearly turned tragic when a stuck thruster caused their spacecraft to tumble rapidly before Armstrong was able to stabilize it.
The auction also features dozens of other CAG-certified artifacts, including ones that Armstrong brought on his more famous Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, when he took humanity's first steps on the moon. These include a postcard-size silk American flag, the centerpiece of a four-piece presentation set with a starting bid of $20,000. The set also includes an Apollo 11 crew photo, an Apollo 11 patch and an insurance cover, a postal collectible signed by the Apollo 11 crew before they left for the mission and canceled in Houston on July 20, 1969, the date of the moon landing. The important provenance of each of these items is certified by CAG.
The sale also has another Apollo 11-flown artifact: a piece of Beta cloth, a fireproof material, which CAG has certified as part of The Armstrong Family Collection. The current bid is $1,650.
Other CAG-certified artifacts from The Armstrong Family Collection include photographs, documents, coins, magazines and even vinyl records.
In addition to The Armstrong Family Collection, CAG has certified artifacts from a number of other collections, including pieces of Wright Flyer Wing Fabric pedigreed to Otto Kallir, a renowned collector of aviation history. A Kallir piece offered in this sale has a current bid of $4,100.
The Wright Brothers' famous airplane kicked off the era of powered flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December 1903. Pieces from the Wright Flyer are highly sought by collectors. In addition to the Kallir piece, Heritage Auctions has previously offered a dozen CAG-certified Wright Flyer Wing Fabric pieces from The Armstrong Family Collection. The Armstrong artifacts came from a portion of the Wright Flyer material that Armstrong took with him on Apollo 11 and was allowed to keep.
In addition to the CAG-certified artifacts, the auction also includes NGC-graded medals from four other important Space Race missions. The Fliteline Medals and their successors, the Robbins Medals, were struck for astronauts to take into space as keepsakes of their mission.
An Apollo 17 Robbins Medal that was flown on that 1972 moon mission is graded NGC MS 68 and pedigreed to Eugene Cernan, the last person to walk on the moon. It has an opening bid of $25,000.
An Apollo 10 Robbins Medal that was flown on that moon mission is graded NGC MS 66 and pedigreed to Command Module Pilot John W. Young. That May 1969 mission served as a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 one two months later, with Apollo 10's Lunar Module separating and descending to within a few miles of the moon's surface. It has a current bid of $4,500.
A Gemini 7 Fliteline Medal that was flown on that orbital mission is graded NGC MS 65 and pedigreed to James A. Lovell Jr. He was one of two astronauts who spent a record-breaking 14 days in space on that December 1965 mission. It has an opening bid of $4,500.
An Apollo 13 Robbins Medal struck from metal flown on that harrowing moon mission is graded NGC MS 68 and pedigreed to crew member Jack Swigert. Swigert was a late substitution for the mission when a primary crew member had to be scratched due to a health risk.
The remade medals added his name on the obverse and removed the moon landing section, since an in-flight explosion scrubbed that portion of the mission. It has an opening bid of $4,000.