Lot #3467
Gene Cernan's Apollo 17 Lunar Flown 'Gotcha' Stowage Label

Cernan's "Trained Observer" stowage label from the CM America—one of only five 'gotcha' tags flown to the moon during Apollo 17

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Estimate: $2500+


Cernan's "Trained Observer" stowage label from the CM America—one of only five 'gotcha' tags flown to the moon during Apollo 17

Gene Cernan’s unique flown ‘gotcha’ stowage label surreptitiously placed onboard the Command Module America and carried into lunar orbit during the historic Apollo 17 mission. This small metallic tag, which measures 2″ x .25″ and reads “Trained Observer,” is one of only five such labels that were placed inside the CM prior to launch by the Apollo 17 backup crew of John Young, Stu Roosa, and Charlie Duke. “Trained Observer” is a reference to Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, the first and only professionally trained geologist to experience an Apollo flight to the moon. In fine condition.

The other four ‘gotcha’ labels from the America were labeled:

‘PPK (Covers, Stamps, Medallions & Other Commercial Products)’ — a reference to the Apollo 15 commercialization scandal that erupted in the press and Congress shortly before the Apollo 17 flight.

‘Capt. America’ — a reference to Ron Evans due to his patriotic spirit and his role as CMP of the America spacecraft.

‘Telephone Jack’ — a reference to Cernan’s garrulous nature and a playful suggestion to have a telephone onboard for him to communicate directly with Houston.

‘CDR Splashdown Speech’ — another reference to Cernan’s gift for gab and his penchant for always having prepared speech for launches, orbits, and splashdowns.

Accompanied by a signed and flight-certifying two-page letter of provenance from Cernan, who states: “Aboard the Apollo command module ‘America,’ metallic stowage labels were used on lockers and beta-cloth stowage pouches to identify contents…We discovered these humorous tags during our mission and removed and retained them as personal mementos of our flight…I hereby certify that the ‘Trained Observer’ metallic stowage label accompanying this letter is one of the original Apollo 17 ‘gotcha’ stowage labels flown to the Moon aboard the command module ‘America’ during the flight of Apollo 17 and from my personal collection of space artifacts.” The second page features an image of Cernan posing with the 'gotcha' label.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Space
  • Dates: #607 - Ended April 22, 2021