Remarkable color semi-glossy 13.5 x 10.5 photo of Earth, affixed to its original 19.75 x 15.75 mount, signed on the mount by forty-one astronauts in various inks, with Alan Shepard adding an inscription, “To Harold Collins, with our compliments and appreciation—The Astronauts,” and including the caption, “The Blue Planet.” Other signers include: Deke Slayton, Michael Collins, Tom Stafford, John Young (2), Gene Cernan, James Lovell, Dave Scott, Alan Bean, Harrison Schmitt, Charlie Duke, Bruce McCandless, Rusty Schweickart, Jack Swigert, Ken Mattingly, Stuart Roosa, Paul Weitz, Fred Haise, Vance Brand, Ed Gibson, Gordon Fullerton, Joe Kerwin, Bob Crippen, Jack Lousma, Ron Evans, Joe Engle, Jerry Carr, Story Musgrave, Owen Garriott, Hank Hartsfield, Bob Overmyer, Don Peterson, Joe Allen, Karol Bobko, William E. Thornton, William Lenoir, Karl Henize, Bill Pogue, Richard Truly, Bob Parker, and Don Lind. Framed to an overall size of 22 x 18. In fine condition, with staple holes to corners and middle of the bottom border, uniform toning to mount, and the Lovell a shade light. Accompanied by a reply letter from Neil Armstrong, typed by his assistant Holley McVey, acknowledging why the first moonwalker declined to sign the photo, matted and framed with the original mailing envelope to an overall size of 14.5 x 22. Also accompanied by copies of the original request and reply letters addressed to Armstrong.
On the day of the Apollo 11 launch, July 16, 1969, Armstrong filled out a check for $10.50 and presented it to NASA official Harold Collins as reimbursement for money he had previously borrowed. When handing the check to Collins, Armstrong purportedly told him, ‘Here’s a check for the loan…but don’t cash it because I will be coming back.’ Armstrong and his crew, of course, did return to Earth eight days later, but the check, forgotten amid the barrage of publicity and celebration, remained in the safekeeping of Collins. Under the impression that it was given to him as a lucky memento, Collins held onto the check for decades before it was ultimately auctioned off in 2009 by RR Auction for over $27,000. In 1973, years before the check left his custody, Collins retired from his post as the Apollo program’s chief of mission control, and as a parting gift was given this photo, replete with thirty-seven astronaut signatures. Unable to obtain Armstrong’s signature at the time, the Collins family, in 2012, made a third-party request to the astronaut asking him to include his signature on the photo. Armstrong, who had dramatically reduced the amount of autographs he would sign in the early 1990s, subsequently refused the request, explaining that the original Collins check was never intended to be sold. Enlivened by the unique Armstrong background story, this multi-signed photo is an impressive showcase of over forty of NASA’s most intrepid explorers, inscribed to a man whose involvement in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions was instrumental. Provenance: Harold Collins Collection. Pre-certified Zarelli Space Authentication.
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