Lot 63: Color semi-glossy 8 x 6.75 photo of Kennedy meeting with Schirra and his family in the Oval Office, affixed to its original 12 x 11 mount, signed and inscribed on the mount in fountain pen, "To Commander Walter Schirra—and his family—with esteem and best wishes, John Kennedy." Framed to an overall size of 13.5 x 12.5. Uniform toning to the mount and the image faded, otherwise fine condition. Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Schirra's daughter Suzanne, who is seen between her father and President Kennedy in the photo. In part: "The matted photograph that accompanies this certificate belonged to my father Walter M. Schirra Jr. It was hand signed and dedicated to him by President John F. Kennedy following our visit to the White House."Schirra visited the White House on October 16, 1962, just two weeks after becoming the fifth American in space during the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission. As the only astronaut to fly in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, Schirra's career in NASA represents each step in answering Kennedy's 1961 call to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. The president's unequivocal support of America's space program was largely informed by the international politics of the Cold War, with the United States and Soviet Union battling for supremacy in spaceflight. Despite the success of Schirra's flight, the news of America's progress in the Space Race was soon eclipsed by the greatest challenge of the Cold War: just 45 minutes prior to meeting with Schirra, Kennedy was shown the first photographs of Soviet missiles on Cuban soil, which had been taken two days earlier during a U-2 reconnaissance flight. After the Schirra family left the Oval Office, Kennedy began planning America's response and the Cuban Missile Crisis commenced. Items signed by Kennedy with such direct and wonderful ties to Project Mercury are exceedingly rare, and highly sought-after by both presidential and space collectors.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 456
Wednesday, 15th July 2015
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