Both these monumental milestones in human history were represented by lots sold at Dallas auction house Heritage on November 3, among items owned by Armstrong himself.
The space memorabilia auction was the first of three dispersing the American astronaut’s personal items. It brought a suitably astronomical response, with nearly 2450 bidders producing a sell-through rates above 99.5% by both lot and dollar value and more than more than $7.4m (including premiums) spent in total.
The archive chronicles Armstrong’s life and career through the memorabilia he owned and much of the Apollo 11 Mission Commander’s collection had never before been seen by the public or offered for sale.
Armstrong’s personal Spacecraft ID plate from Apollo 11’s Lunar Module Eagle, flown on the first manned lunar landing, July 16-24, 1969, sold for $468,500. Three of these Lunar Module-5 Identification plates were flown to the moon on Apollo 11 and returned to Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. Each ID plate was then mounted on a wall plaque and one was presented to each crewmember.
A US flag that Armstrong kept as a treasured souvenir, sold for $275,000. The 17.75 x 11.5in (44.5 x 29cm) silk flag with red stitching around the edges, the largest size typically flown by Apollo missions, travelled to the moon with Apollo 11.
The piece of the propeller and section of the wing fabric from Orville and Wilbur Wright's invention of the first successful aeroplane, flown at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on Decmber 17, 1903, sold for $275,000 each. They were placed aboard Apollo XI and carried to the surface of the moon by the lunar module Eagle on mankind’s first lunar landing.
Armstrong was allowed to retain a portion of the cloth and propeller pieces for his own personal collection.
Armstrong’s light blue owned and worn Gemini flight suit, a rare surviving memento of his work on the Project Gemini program soared to $109,375, more than five times its $20,000 pre-auction estimate.
Some of the other lots offered were deeply personal lots related to Armstrong’s childhood. A crayon colouring of flowers, from the first grade with a note from his mother, sold for $15,000. Armstrong was a lifelong supporter of the Boy Scouts and his own flat field hat sold for $12,000.
Meanwhile, a handwritten letter to the Easter Bunny, possibly the earliest signed item ever offered from Armstrong, sold for $4000.
Next Armstrong auction
The second part of the Armstrong collection sale is on Part II is May 9-10, 2019, with a third and final auction set for November 2019.