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Lot #4354
Wernher von Braun Collection of (9) Conceptual Sketches and Diagrams for Collier's Magazine and His 'Handbook on Space Travel' Manuscript

Collection of conceptual artwork for Wernher von Braun's influential publications on space travel

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Estimate: $10000+
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Collection of conceptual artwork for Wernher von Braun's influential publications on space travel

Rare and impressive lot of two original conceptual sketches by Wernher von Braun for his famous ‘Man Will Conquer Space Soon!’ article in Collier’s magazine, and a set of seven original conceptual sketches by an unknown artist for the von Braun manuscript ‘Handbook on Space Travel,’ a precursor to his 1960 novella First Men to the Moon, portions of which had previously been serialized in the American syndicated Sunday magazine supplement, This Week between 1958 and 1959.

Von Braun’s two sketches for the Collier’s article, accomplished in graphite on individual 11 x 8.5 sheets of graphing paper, are entitled “Baby satellite, Payload compartment” and “Baby satellite, Animal chamber,” with the former signed in the lower right corner, “Wernher von Braun, 18 April 1953.” These sketches were the basis for artist Fred Freeman's illustrations in the June 27, 1953 issue of Collier's magazine. Von Braun's article on the ‘Baby Space Station’ appeared in that issue as part of the series ‘Man will Conquer Space Soon!,’ and described a small satellite designed to stay in orbit for 60 days, carrying three rhesus monkeys, TV cameras, antennae, solar mirrors, and Geiger counters. These two sketches provide cross-sections of the satellite, with the latter depicting two of the monkeys.

The seven sketches and diagrams for the ‘Handbook on Space Travel’ are accomplished in ink and watercolor on individual off-white sheets ranging in size from 4 x 2.75 to 13 x 7.75, which are in turn adhered to four mounting sheets that range from 8.5 x 11.25 to 13.75 x 8.5. The sketches include: a detailed cross-section drawing of two astronauts in a space cabin, with ample artist notations pointing to the various compartments and instruments; a “Space Spoon” and “Space Drinking Bottle”; a “Space Dish and Cooker”; three sketches of celestial bodies and measurements; and a full-length sketch of an astronaut in his space suit, with numerous artist notations indicating gear and instruments. Three of the four mounting sheets feature handwritten pencil notations from von Braun, who also adds editorial notes to all of the sketches (the exception being the ‘cabin’ sketch and mounting sheet), two of which he approves with his initials, “O.K. WVB” and “Yes, O.K. WVB.” In overall fine condition.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Space Exploration and Aviation
  • Dates: #691 - Ended April 25, 2024

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