An autograph of the first man who walked on the Moon is a must-have for space-history collectors. But an astronomical number of forgeries of Neil Armstrong’s signature fly around in the market place, so buyers are understandably nervous.
The so-called “insurance” postal covers from Apollo 11 are a safe way of acquiring the crew’s autographs. As Buzz Aldrin has explained, “Since we were unable to obtain adequate life insurance due to the high risk nature of being an astronaut, we signed this group of covers and evenly distributed them to our families for safe keeping while we performed our mission. If an unfortunate event prevented our safe return, the covers would have provided a limited financial means of support to our families.”
An insurance cover with the right postmarks (the launch date of July 16 or the lunar landing date of July 20, 1969), the right cachets (printed images of the Apollo 11 crew emblem or the lunar surface), and a letter of authenticity from one of the astronauts gives you a gilt-edged piece featuring the autographs of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Expect to pay upwards of $5,000 in auction.
(Matthew Haley is the Specialist in Fine Books and Manuscripts at the auction house Bonhams.)
Think about it:
In those days, these people were committed to an ideal, patriotism, and courage in the face of danger. Today, some are, but they are fewer. I think it has to do with having faced mortal enemies in World War II, and then a determined world adversary in the Soviet Union. It was a big contest. And it made people bigger.
They weren’t looking to ‘make a buck’ so much as buck the unknown.
Get the spirit back.
I have a coin with the moon rock that was given to the Admin crew of the Navy ship that picked them up. I also have the tie clasp of the helo pulling them out of the ocean. Very good memories.
There is nothing I could say that has not already been said before and better. I’m 89 and I have followed the space program from it’s inception. In my opion, the space program must continue because it’s inherent ability to stimulate the imagination of the next geneation.
It was really a beautiful experience going through your post and knowing about Apollo insurance postal covers. Thanks.
Thanks so much for your kind comment! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.
I was only a third graders when those men landed and walked on the moon. I was awe inspired and I knew the names of all the Apollo and Gemini astronauts and when they had flown.
Your article makes clear the extraordinary reality of the risks these men took to even attempt such a feat. They most surely could easily have died. How somber it must have been to sign all of those cards.
I really appreciate your post.
You’re exactly right: we can only imagine the astronauts’ state of mind when signing the envelopes.
Certainly there have been astronauts who lost their lives in the pursuit of science – Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia.
Thank you for your kind words about the article.