Bonhams Space memorabilia sale tops $1.3 million in New York

Buzz Shortyear

Buzz Shortyear

2016-07-21 14:12:44

Prices for space memorabilia have soared at Bonhams this week, as the auction house recorded an astronomical result of more than $1.3 million in New York.

The Space History sale featured items spanning the length and breadth of the Space Race, from the earliest Soviet satellites to the International Space Station.

The sale was led by an original vintage full-scale model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, produced in 1957 at the Experimental Design Bureau-1 factory.

Featuring a still-operational live transmitter, the model is one of just four known test examples produced at the lab prior to the launch of Sputnik in October 1957. Described as "an incredible and impressive artifact from the dawn of the space age", the model blasted past its estimate of $10,000 - $15,000 to sell for $269,000.

Another of the top-selling lots was a highly rare Apollo 11 beta cloth emblem patch, flown into space inside the PPK (personal preference kit) of crew member Michael Collins.

As one of the few space-flown items bearing the signatures of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Collins himself, the patch doubled its estimate to realize $110,000 – making it one of the 10 most valuable pieces of Apollo 11 memorabilia ever sold.

One of only four full-sized test models of Sputnik ever built

One of only four full-sized test models of Sputnik ever built

Armstrong and Aldrin also featured amongst the list of astronauts whose hands hit the auction block, as part of an unusual display of plaster casts.

Originally taken to help create custom-fitted space suit gloves, the gold-painted casts were offered with an estimate of $6,000 - $9,000, but sold for $155,000.

Further notable highlights included a space navigation indicator flown aboard the Soyuz-3 in 1968, which sold for $37,500; an Apollo 11 navigational chart used by Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface, which sold for $40,000; an d a spacesuit worn by Don Pettit in February 2003 during his return to earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-1, following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, which sold for $62,500.

"This was a truly meteoric result for the Space History sale,” said Cassandra Hatton, Director of History of Science and Technology at Bonhams. "The demand for these relics of the space race continues to be really strong."

"Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are still very much household names – evidently, everything they touched turns to gold. The pieces from the Soviet space missions are also steeped with history and drama, so it’s exciting to see the market flourishing across the board."

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