The notorious cover that led to the crew’s suspension
Uncommon and scandal-plagued limited edition Apollo 15 insurance cover, 6.5 x 3.75, #223 of 300, carried to the lunar surface aboard the Falcon, signed in the lower left corner by crew members Dave Scott, Al Worden, and Jim Irwin. This particular cover comes from astronaut Dave Scott’s personal collection, and is accompanied by a letter of provenance stating: “This cover is #223 of 400 postmarked just prior to the launch of Apollo 15…carried to the lunar surface in LM‘Falcon’; returned to Earth in CM ‘Endeavour’; and postmarked immediately after splashdown,” and signed at the conclusion, “Dave Scott, March 2, 1996.”
Accompanied by a one-page typed notarized certification, signed “Alfred M. Worden,” “David R. Scott,” and “James B. Irwin,” attesting to the cover; a one-page ALS, signed “Jim Irwin,” dated 1983, regarding the return of some of the covers to his possession; and a two-page typed letter from Terence Finn, Director of NASA’s Legislative Affairs to Senator Dave Durenberger, regarding the legal possession and attempts by an astronaut to regain possession of the the covers. In fine condition, with a couple small fingerprints to lower left corner of cover.
Prior to the flight of Apollo 15, a German stamp dealer cut a deal with the crew to carry 100 covers to the moon in return for $7,000 each, on the condition that they not be sold until after the end of the Apollo program. The crew carried his covers, along with 300 of their own. Despite the agreement not to sell the items, the stamp dealer immediately began offering them to interested parties…leading to a Congressional investigation and a decision by NASA to suspend Scott, Worden, and Irwin from flight duty. The agency also confiscated the items owned by the Apollo 15 crewmen. In 1983, after the US Post Office announced plans to fly 260,000 covers onboard a Space Shuttle, Worden sued the government for return of the Apollo 15 cachets.
Following an out-of-court settlement, the crew drafted and signed a notarized letter of provenance for each cover. The legal document is, of course, specific in its detail, noting that the postal covers “were carried aboard the Apollo 15 Mission...and carried aboard the Apollo 15 Spacecraft during the entire term of the Mission to include...the moon, and were returned to the Earth at the termination of the Mission on August 7, 1971.” The accompanying letter from NASA also offers a detailed explanation from the agency’s point of view, noting that “Because of concern over use of Government-financed space flights for purposes of personal gain” both NASA and Senate conducted an investigation.
The trail of the offered cover is a piece of space collectible legend, with the provenance and accompanying documentation telling the tale in great detail! Pre-certified Scott Cornish and RRAuction COA.
Bidding opens Monday, October 26
The auction closes on Wednesday, November 11, 2009