Our Top Five... Most unusual space collectibles


2015-06-26 12:15:46


Our Top Five... Most unusual space collectibles

We look at the lighter side of weightlessness, with some of the space markets' more offbeat collectibles

Space fans who've followed mankind's moves upwards with fascination at every stage always want to own a piece of the process whether trivial or instrumental to the missions, whether it be an astronaut's signature, a checklist or even a piece of equipment from the craft itself.

Some of these collectibles are more unusual than others, however. Here's a look at our five most unusual pieces of space memorabilia:

A rocket that rocks

Arianespace SA is the world's first commercial space transportation company, founded in France three decades ago. In August 2010, it presented a unique gift to Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, a member of the Doobie Brothers band and a guitarist for Steely Dan as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations: a one-of-a-kind guitar, made from part of an Ariane 5 rocket.

Guitar made from a spacerocket is handed overGuitar made from a spacerocket is handed over

"The decade that saw the rise of Jeff Baxter also saw the rise of the Ariane program," Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said. "In 1979, the same year that the Doobie Brother's 'Minute by Minute' reached the top of the charts, we counted down the minutes, consulted our charts and launched the first Ariane rocket out of French Guiana."

Creating a Buzz

Whilst it's Neil Armstrong that gets most of the appreciation, Buzz is actually the space-dweller who has clocked up the most time in space beating cosmonaut Valery Vladimirovich Polyakov's 437 day record by 30 days in 2009 thanks to a long stay on the International Space Station.

That's pretty impressive for a figure under a foot tall with a push-button karate chop.

You may have twigged that we're not talking about second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin here, but rather his younger namesake: The Toy Story hero was taken up as a mascot, and even given a parade on his return.

Buzz Aldrin leads the celebrations for his fellow astronaut

No plans to sell him have been announced, but if they did the price could soar to infinity, and beyond.

One small clip for man...

Neil Armstrong gradually lost patience with his celebrity status after his return to Earth, and long ago gave up signing autographs. (This has resulted in the value of Armstrong signed material shooting up, as noted on the PFC40 Index.)

In May 2005, Armstrong went a step further and became involved in a legal battle with barber Marx Sizemore of Lebanon, Ohio, Armstrong's hometown, after finding that the barber was selling off cuts of his hair to memorabilia hunters.

Armstrong threatened legal action unless the hair was returned or the sale proceeds donated to charity.

However, despite his best efforts, Armstrong's hair remains on the market, notably at asmallpieceofhistory.com. In fact, even the scissors and comb Sizemore used are available.

A brandy that's out of this world

Apollo 8 was only the second manned mission of the Apollo space program, yet it was the first to send human beings outside of Earth's gravitational pull and into orbit around another celestial body - the Moon. Lunar module Ballast orbited it 10 times in total.

Launched on December 21 1968, the mission missed Christmas on Earth as they only touched down on December 27. But they hadn't been left entirely without festive cheer.

The crew found a small present from original Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton in the food locker on the 25th: a real turkey with stuffing and three miniature bottles of brandy.

Those bottles of brandy have remained unopened ever since, which gave collectors a chance to get involved years later when crew member James Lovell sold his at Heritage Auction Galleries for $17,925.

Check her out...

Bonhams' space memorabilia auction in New York, was a massive success on July 16, 2009, with one particular collectible standing out: a wrist mounted checklist used by Charles Duke on board Apollo 16.

The intriguing lo-tech device was a metal bound booklet strapped to the wrist of Duke's space suit. It was exposed to the lunar environment for 12 hours during the exploration periods.

Any checklist involved in the Apollo program is likely to be valuable, especially if it's been in space, never mind on the Moon. But the lot had an extra factor making it even more covetable: a cheeky insertion only to be discovered during its use on the lunar surface.

One page features a hand drawn,drooling, space-suited astronaut melting away in the arms of a buxom nude woman. The astronaut says: "Happy Birthday Whatever Your Name Is." It sold for a stunning $206,000.

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