Space and Aviation Autograph and Artifact Auction

Amherst, N.H. -- RR Auction is pleased to announce its popular Space and Aviation Autograph and Artifact Auction, scheduled to take place from May 17th to May 23rd, 2012. The sale includes an amazing selection of early aviation items, including a stunning and exceedingly rare, handwritten letter by Wilbur Wright from 1910 to a student pilot discussing their “new machines” which “are much steadier in strong winds and easier to control than the older ones.” Seldom seen and in-demand aviation artifacts from World War II are also represented, with one-of-a-kind vintage patches, autographs, and an amazing assemblage of original fighter pilot flight jackets, including jackets from such famed aviators as James W. Ayers, Robert Cardenas, and Frank K. “Pete” Everest.

Other early aviation items include a remarkable and historically significant autographed note by Charles Lindbergh pleading with reporters the morning after his son’s kidnapping: “Due to the fact that our roads are blocked and communication made extremely difficult under present circumstances, I am asking that everyone leave our farm;” a huge, flown 32”x19.5” piece of glazed aircraft fabric, replete with a large Balkankreuz from one of the fighter aircraft of Manfred von Richthofen, the famous Red Baron himself; and a historic, 12”x8” American flag flown with the legendary Howard Hughes on his world-record breaking “Around the World Flight” in July of 1938.

While the selection of early aviation items is, indeed, impressive, some of the major highlights of this historic sale can be found within the hundreds of generously illustrated and accurately described and authenticated lots of rare space artifacts, autographs, and manuscripts.  Said Livingston: “With the U.S. no longer capable of sending a human being into space, there is a huge, global interest in acquiring vintage flown and training material from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs - arguable the golden age of U.S. manned space flight.”

Of particular note and interest are U.S. Naval Academy items directly from the Alan Shepard estate. Original items from Shepard, the first American into space, and a moonwalker and Commander on Apollo 14, are extremely rare and hard to come-by, especially with such impeccable provenance and from so early in his career. Items from the estate include Shepard’s United States Naval Academy Battalion Pass Book, signed a total of 38 times by Shepard; a large assortment of personal gear and clothing issued to and worn by Shepard while at the Naval Academy; a massive collection of approximately 52 letters and a telegrams sent to Shepard by female “love interests;” and Shepard’s personally-owned and worn Navy hat and jacket.

“Of course, space flown artifacts - whether actually used during the mission or part of an astronauts Personal Preference Kit, or PPK -- are the rarest and mostly highly prized of vintage-era artifacts,” said Livingston. This auction presents a generous number of moon flown flags, patches, and Robbins medallions across multiple missions - including a Robbins medallion from each of the fabled manned Apollo missions.

Some representative highlights from the hundreds of vintage space artifact lots include:

    ??    A flown, 100+ page complete pilot’s log book from the Gemini 5 mission, with extensive in-flight writing and mission commentary from Gemini 5 pilot Pete Conrad.
    ??    American flag flown on the historic Apollo 11 mission, and attached to an official NASA certificate with an authentic Neil Armstrong signature.
    ??    A flown Apollo 11 Robbins medallion from the former collection of Apollo 12 moonwalker Alan Bean, as well as an extremely rare Apollo 12 “Wives-pin” Robbins medallion with diamond stud and pin-back.
    ??    A lunar surface flown Apollo 15 Lunar Rover commemorative license plate that was carried by mission commander Dave Scott for over 17 miles across the lunar surface.
    ??    An incredible, large flown lunar module stowage bag from the Apollo 15 mission stained with lunar dust from the Hadley-Apennine region of the moon.
    ??    A rare and complete Apollo 17 flown tool kit, believed to be the last complete tool set in existence and available for private collectors!

There are also a host of rare and vintage training used hardware and documentation, including a scarce Block II Command Module Rotational Hand Controller; an absolutely one-of-a-kind Apollo Lunar Module water loop designed to go from space suit to the console in the Lunar Module; and an amazing, 46 page complete Apollo 13 Command Service Module Data Systems training manual, signed and certified by Fred Haise, the Apollo 13 lunar module pilot.

Additionally, this auction features a shop-tested “modular servicing tool” (aka - “screwdriver”) used during training for the STS-41C Solar Max repair mission. The importance of this device and shuttle mission cannot be understated, as no one in human history had retrieved an orbiting satellite, repaired it, and redeployed it in the same mission. This training tool was integral in making that mission possible.

Collectors of original contractor models will not be disappointed, either. Among many of the contractor rocket and satellite models, this auction will present an original, museum built ¼ scale precision model of a 1961 Mercury Redstone capsule. The massive and detailed model, measuring 38” long with a 23” diameter base, includes a highly detailed Mercury astronaut  in full spacesuit, with hands on the controls and a large instrument panel.  

And an RR Auction would not be complete without hundreds of originally signed photos, letters, and manuscripts. Of particular note, is a fascinating and vast personal archive from Apollo 15 Astronaut Jim Irwin, including 80 handwritten pages and notes for his book which describe in detail his moonwalk, the space craft design, the Apollo 15 cover scandal, and multiple other interesting topics.

“This auction truly is an aviation and space enthusiast’s dream-come-true, with some of the most amazing lots of authentic and vintage material we’ve ever offered,” said Livingston. “Obviously, there are too many lots to list in a single press release. It will be exciting to watch the market’s reaction to this incredible material when the auction goes online!”

For more information on additional lots, including how to order a catalog and bid online, please go to the RR Auction website at