Space Age Collectibles
Go on the Block
by Bob Brooke
vintage NASA photographs from outer space will go on the auction
block at Bloomsbury Auctions in London later this month. Although
they aren’t the first space memorabilia to go up for auction, they
are some of the most spectacular. All are vintage Kodaks----itself
now a collectible since the company’s downturn in recent years.
Auctioneers at Bloomsbury expect the photos to sell for $462 to over
The auction will showcase 600 visuals of U.S. Space Program history,
everything from Buzz Aldrin’s first "selfie" in outer space to an
abstract portrait of an eclipse to panoramic views of lunar canyons.
of the more memorable offerings is from 1969, the year Neil
Armstrong first stepped foot on the Moon. The historic photo that
everyone remembers is of Aldrin on the Moon. It wasn't until 20
years after Armstrong became a lunar hero that NASA discovered a
sharp image of him, taken by Aldrin, standing near the lunar module.
Like so many other images, it got stashed in a NASA archive at the
space agency’s headquarters in Houston. Before that, NASA believed
the only photos from the lunar surface were blurry shots grabbed by
the astronauts using a TV camera and a 16 mm motion picture camera.
The photos in this auction showcase the golden age of space travel.
Besides showing U.S. astronauts acting a bit like the first tourists
on the Moon—which they were—they also show other-worldly scenes from
outer space, far beyond Earth.
Aldrin's impressively composed image, the auction offers a number of
photos by other astronauts, from John Glenn, the first man to
venture into space to Eugene Cernan, the last man to trek to the
moon to Ed White, who documented his 1965 space walk during NASA’s
Gemini 4 mission.
Many photos in this auction were unknown to the public until NASA’s
photographic archive began appearing on the Internet. Included are
crude handmade panoramic shots of the lunar landscape taken with the
then state-of-the-art Hasselblad cameras, then pieced together by
NASA scientists to use in their research. Today, digital panoramic
shots are available on many smart phones. Just imagine if the
astronauts had a Samsung phone with them at the time.
Just recently, the wife of the late Neil Armstrong discovered a
stash of space memorabilia that he had stuck in a closet.
Fortunately, this group of objects went to the National Air and
Space Museum and not to auction. What was junk back then is
important memorabilia today. Included in the packet was the camera
Armstrong used to take some of the photos in this auction. To
Armstrong, it was just a bag of trash.
Space collectibles are the newest wave in high tech memorabilia to
attract knowledgeable and deep-pocketed collectors. Not only are
they important collectibles. They’re also important pieces of
history that is still in the making.
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