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Lot #452
Mercury Seven

STARS IN THEIR EYES: Remarkable early satellite capsule model signed by the MERCURY SEVEN astronauts

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STARS IN THEIR EYES: Remarkable early satellite capsule model signed by the MERCURY SEVEN astronauts

Molded plastic scale model, circa 1960–61, approximately 3.75″ in diameter at the base by 6″ high, the weighted base bearing the legend in raised letters “Project Mercury Manned Satellite Capsule,” the crown similarly marked “NASA—McDonnell,” signed diagonally in china marker or grease pencil by all seven of the original Mercury astronauts: Alan B. Shepard, Jr., John H. Glenn, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Gus Grissom, Leroy B. Cooper, Jr., and M. Scott Carpenter. Accompanied by a signed affidavit from the original owner, former Time, Incorporated correspondent David W. Hunter, who explains the item’s origin: “At some point between late 1960 and the end of the first quarter of 1961, I and several other members of the Canaveral Press Corps were presented with a scale model ... of the Project Mercury Manned Satellite Capsule by McDonnell Aircraft.... I shared offices in the Polaris Motel ... with one Jay Barbree, of NBC News.... In the Spring of 1961 Barbree scheduled the seven astronauts to come to our office to tape-record interviews for his network.... Over the course of three days, as the astronauts kept their appointments, I seized the opportunity to have each of them autograph my model of the Mercury Capsule....” Also included is a 1996 TLS from Barbree, attesting that he was a witness to each of the signatures, and that each is genuine. The signatures are fine, with just a hint of subtle smudging to Grissom and a very faint hint of toning to varnish (small losses to varnish not affecting signatures). The capsule itself is in very good, basically sound condition, with a few cracks. A radial crack where the body of the capsule meets the rounded base (with a few tiny associated chips) has been partly repaired with glue. Another crack, approximately 1.5″ in length, extends up from the base, approaching (but not touching) Slayton’s middle initial; and another tight, unobtrusive radial crack, approximately 2.75″ in length, runs along the top of the gray band beneath Schirra and Grissom’s signatures. A rare and most remarkable souvenir from the dawn of America’s space program! COA Scott Cornish and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #330 - Ended February 13, 2008