Apollo 13 collectibles
Apollo 13 collectibles are items - including memorabilia, medals, manuscripts and other varieties of collectible – related to man’s third mission to the Moon. The journey of Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise was famously thwarted when an oxygen tank exploded during Apollo 13’s journey from Earth.
The crew returned to Earth safely after orbiting the Moon. The mission is often termed a ‘successful failure’ in reference to the crew’s bravery and survival.
Today, Apollo 13 remains popular among collectors – partly due to the overall popularity of space collectibles, and also due to the mission’s ‘disaster element’ (much like Titanic collectibles).
In 2010, auction house Bonhams timed its Space Auction to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the oxygen tank explosion aboard Apollo 13. (It’s 2009 sale coincided with Apollo’s first-ever Moon landing.)
In 1996, a Hollywood film retelling the Apollo 13 disaster was released to great success. It starred Tom Hanks as Commander Jim Lovell.
In 2009, Bonhams auctioned Commander Lovell and lunar module pilot Haise's mission notes for $27,450.
Famously, the descent engine aboard Apollo 13 enabled the crew to change their flight plan and return safely to Earth. A wood, plastic and metal model of the engine sold at Bonhams' July 2009 space sale for $5,185.
‘Aquarius’ identification plate
The most valuable piece of Apollo 13 memorabilia to-date is from the Apollo 13 module itself: the flown lunar module spacecraft identification plate.
Aquarius was mission’s lunar module, which became a "lifeboat" that literally saved the astronauts' lives. Because Aquarius wasn’t equipped with a heat shield to withstand Earth’s atmosphere on re-entry, it was jettisoned into space.
The plate reads:
The metal plate, of 5.25" x 1.75" mounted to a 10" x 11" wooden display plaque, reads: "APOLLO XIII LUNAR MODULE - 7 "FAREWELL AQUARIUS, AND WE THANK YOU" Capt. J. Lovell - F. Haise - J. Swigert, Jr."
It was sold by Heritage Auctions for $47,800.