Published: June 14, 2022
DALLAS – The largest-sized American flag aboard the most important flight in the history of the US Space Program, owned and signed by the mission’s command module pilot Michael Collins, soared to $162,500 to lead Heritage Auctions’ Space Exploration Signature® Auction to $2,591,768 June 2-3.
The result for the Apollo 11-flown American flag, certified by Collins and directly from his personal collection with accompanying signed certificate, with CAG certification reached a new stratosphere, touching down at more than four times its estimate to lead the nearly sold-out event, which drew 1,755 bidders in pursuit of more than 1,000 lots and generated sell-through rates of better than 99 percent by value and by lots sold.
The flag led the collection of Collins, who famously flew aboard Apollo 11, the first manned mission to reach the moon, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Collins kept the flag as a treasured souvenir of the historic mission. At 17¾ inches by 11½ inches, the incredibly rare silk flag is the largest size typically flown by Apollo missions. Written in black ink on the Collectibles Authentication Guaranty-certified flag: “Carried to the Moon on Apollo XI, July 1969- /Michael Collins CMP.” Bidding on the flag persisted for more than seven minutes with multiple bidders.
“Michael Collins is among the most important astronauts in the history of space travel, and the results of this auction surpassed our loftiest expectations,” Heritage Auctions Space Exploration consignment director Brad Palmer said. “We knew the interest in the flag would be sky-high because mission-flown flags of that size (17¾ by 11½ inches) are in exceedingly high demand among serious space collectors. This is a fantastic flag, owned and signed by Michael Collins, and it ended up serving as an outstanding launching point for the entire auction.”
From the same historic mission came an Apollo 11-flown and crew-signed Beta cloth from the Collins collection, CAG-certified, that more than tripled its estimate when it reached $137,500. In the center of the cloth is a circular insignia (diameter: 3-3/8 inches) that was designed by Collins and shows an eagle carrying an olive branch to the moon with Earth in the distance over the eagle’s right shoulder. After the mission, Collins wrote: “Carried to the moon aboard Apollo XI/ July 1969″ and signed it, as did Armstrong and Aldrin. Made with fire-safe Fiberglass Beta yarns, Beta cloth was used in the space suits worn by the Apollo astronauts.
Three lots brought six-figure results; the third was an Apollo 11-flown and used star chart with handwritten annotations, signed and CAG-certified, which ended at $125,000 – more than three times its estimate. The chart is a vital piece of documentation from the Apollo 11 mission, depicting dozens of stars and constellations and features numerous handwritten annotations by Collins, with the following written on the left border: “During the flight of/ Apollo Eleven,/ I used this chart/ to help me locate stars. The/ numbers were/ entered into/ the Command/ Module Computer/ Michael/ Collins/ CMP.”
The auction included 19 flags, including an Apollo 11-flown American flag signed and certified by Collins, from his personal collection with accompanying signed certificate, CAG-certified, that reached $81,250 and a framed Apollo 11-flown American flag on a crew-signed presentation certificate that sold for $75,000.
Mission-flown Robbins medallions always hold significant appeal to collectors, and this sale was no exception. All told, the event included 23 assorted Robbins medallions, including an Apollo 11-flown MS67 NGC sterling silver Robbins medallion (serial number 300) that went for $52,500 and an Apollo 11-flown MS66 NGC sterling silver Robbins medallion (serial number 357) that closed at $36,250.
An Apollo 11-flown “Flight Plan,” with annotations handwritten by Collins nearly quintupled its estimate when it drew a winning bid of $47,500. Measuring 6½ by 8 inches, the page is numbered “89B” and comes from the Command Module Pilot Solo Book that was flown and used aboard Columbia. The heavily annotated page addresses LM Insertion and covers the time between 124:30 and 125:00. It has been signed in black ink along bottom: “Michael Collins/ CMP” and “A flown page from the Apollo XI/ Flight Plan/ Michael Collins CMP” on the verso, making it an extremely important relic from this historic flight. The lot included a handwritten letter of authenticity from Collins stating he kept this page due to the stretch of time it covered when he was supposed to be “the loneliest human ever.”
A dozen bids came in for an Apollo 11-flown Pilot’s Preference Kit (PPK), signed and certified by Collins before it found a new home at $40,000. The kit includes a Beta cloth bag with a sewn-on tag that reads “Kit Pilot’s Preference/P/N SEB 12100018-202/ S/N 1071.” Collins signed and annotated that same tag, as well as the notes. Written directly below the tag is: “Flown to the Moon/ Aboard Apollo XI.” Accompanying the kit is a handwritten note on Collins’ letterhead, vouching for the authenticity of the kit. Flown PPK’s are scarce and among the most highly coveted of flown space artifacts.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, www.ha.com or 214-528-3500.
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