Memorabilia from history’s tensest moments



2017-04-19 14:59:45

Here are 5 pieces of memorabilia from some of the most nail-bitingly tense moments in world history.

5. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand

The assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in the city of Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1914 was extremely bad news.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The gun that fired 'the shot heard around the world' - Image: Wikimedia Commons


It tripped a lethal network of alliances that resulted an unprecedented world war. This was the worst conflict mankind had ever seen.

It must have been an extraordinarily frightening time as the old nations of Europe geared up for a fight. Amazingly, the actual gun used in the assassination was discovered in a house in Austria in 2004.

It’s now on display at the Museum of Military History in Vienna.

4. The 2010 San Jose mine disaster  

The 2010 disaster at the San Jose copper mine in Chile was among the most gripping stories of the decade.

In all 33 miners were trapped inside after a collapse.

Image: eBay

The San Jose mine was the focus of world attention for several months in 2010 - Image: eBay

An unprecedented global effort was launched to free the miners, with organisations including NASA offering support.

Finally, 69 days on from the collapse, all 33 of the miners were freed.

This carbide lamp from the San Jose mine is listed on eBay for $49.99.

3. The 1982 World Cup semi-final

The penalty shoot-out is an almost universally detested means of determining the winner of a football match.

Image: Kassel

Germany won the penalty shoot-out, naturally - Image: Kassel

It’s actually a relatively recent introduction to the game, originating in the 1970s.

The first time it was used in the finals of the World Cup tournament was in the 1982 semi-finals between West Germany and France.

Tickets from the pulsating match, which ended 3-3 before West Germany won the spot-kicks, are valued at around $40.

2. The Cuban missile crisis

Since the invention of nuclear weapons, the world has come perilously close to annihilation on a few occasions.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of these times.

Image: Sotheby

Just imagine the conversations that took place around these chairs - Image: Sotheby's

For just over a week in 1962, following a Russian attempt to secretly move nuclear missiles onto Cuba, it looked like nuclear war with America was imminent.

Both sides desperately tried to find a way to de-escalate without losing face.

After extremely tough negotiations, both sides backed down – with the Russians taking their missiles out of Cuba and the Americans removing theirs from Turkey and Italy.

These are the very chairs that Kennedy and aide Robert McNamara sat in during those long, tense days. They made $146,500 at Sotheby’s in 2012.

1. Apollo 13

It’s difficult to think of a situation quite as frightening as getting into technical trouble in space.

Image: Heritage Auctions

Lovell's handwriting remains neat, despite his desperate situation - Image: Heritage Auctions

There’s a dizzying range of ways that the situation could result in the death of you and all your crew. That’s what makes the calm and methodical way the astronauts of Apollo 13 approached their problem so deeply impressive.

Faced with a busted oxygen tank, they calculated by hand their position and the amount of fuel needed to return them to Earth.

Meanwhile, the world watched on. 

It would be four days before they splashed down safely in the Pacific, to the relief of practically everyone on the planet. The notebook Commander James Lovell used to make those calculations sold for $388,375 at Heritage Auctions in 2011.  

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