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Neil Armstrong’s Collection Goes to Auction: One Giant Sale

Bids can be taken online, by phone or in person

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Neil Armstrong
FILE - Neil Armstrong waving in front, heads for the van that will take the crew to the rocket for launch to the moon at Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla., July 16, 1969. (VOA)

Admirers of Neil Armstrong and space exploration have a chance to own artifacts and mementos that belonged to the modest man who became a global hero by becoming the first human to walk on the moon.

The personal collection of Armstrong, who died in his native Ohio in 2012, will be offered for sale in a series of auctions handled by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, beginning November 1-2 and continuing in May and November 2019.

The collection includes a variety of artifacts from Armstrong’s 1969 lunar landing and private mementos that include pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer that the astronaut took with him to the moon.

Other items that went to the moon with Armstrong include a U.S. flag, the largest size typically flown during Apollo missions; a United Nations flag; various state flags; and some Robbins Medallions. The sterling silver medallions were paid for by the crews of Apollo missions and were available for purchase only by NASA astronauts. Armstrong’s collection also includes a rare gold medallion.

Among the more personal items to be auctioned are a Purdue University centennial flag from Armstrong’s alma mater that traveled on Apollo 11 and his Boy Scout cap.

Armstrong’s son, Mark Armstrong, said his father never talked to him about what he wanted done with the large amount of items he kept.

“I don’t think he spent much time thinking about it,” Armstrong said. “He did save all the items, so he obviously felt they were worth saving.”

Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong.

Armstrong, who lives in suburban Cincinnati, said his father did keep all of his “flown” items together.

Faced with the responsibility of conserving, preserving and insuring irreplaceable items and honoring their father’s legacy, Armstrong and his brother, Rick, found that some things needed restoration, and that some required research to be properly identified.

“We felt like the number of people that could help us identify them and give us the historical context was diminishing and that the problem of understanding that context would only get worse over time,” he said.

The Armstrongs turned to Sarasota, Florida-based Collectibles Authentication Guaranty for help with preserving and authenticating the artifacts and memorabilia and chose Heritage Auctions for the sales.

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Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions, said it handles numerous categories of collectibles that appeal to various collectors, but items connected with space seem to have a universal appeal.

“Space is one of the very, very few categories that every single person seems to be interested in,” Rohan said. “You show somebody something from the space program, and they are fascinated by it.”

Bids can be taken online, by phone or in person. (VOA)

Next Story

Bluefin Tuna Sold At an Auction for a Record $3 Million

Decades-old Tsukiji was one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations as well as the world’s biggest fish market.

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Tuna
A prospective buyer inspects the quality of a frozen tuna before the first auction of the year at the newly opened Toyosu Market, new site of Tokyo's fish market, in Tokyo, Jan. 5, 2019. VOA

A 612-pound (278-kilogram) bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($3 million) in the first auction of 2019, after Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market was moved to a new site on the city’s waterfront.

The winning bid for the prized but threatened species at the predawn auction Saturday was more than double the 2013 annual New Year auction.

It was paid by Kiyomura Corp., whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain. Kimura has often won the annual auction in the past.

Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a beaming Kimura saying that he was surprised by the high price of tuna this year. But he added: “The quality of the tuna I bought is the best.”

Tuna
A prospective buyers inspect the quality of tuna before the first auction of the year at the newly opened Toyosu Market, new site of Tokyo’s fish market, Jan. 5, 2019, in Tokyo.

Prices above normal

The auction prices are way above usual for bluefin tuna. The fish normally sells for up to $40 a pound ($88 a kilogram) but the price rises to more than $200 a pound near the year’s end, especially for prized catches from Oma in northern Japan.

Last year’s auction was the last at Tsukiji before the market shifted to a new facility on a former gas plant site on Tokyo Bay. The move was delayed repeatedly because of concerns over soil contamination.

Fish face extinction

Japanese are the biggest consumers of the torpedo-shaped bluefin tuna, and surging consumption here and overseas has led to overfishing of the species. Experts warn it faces extinction, with stocks of Pacific bluefin depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.

Tuna
It was paid by Kiyomura Corp., whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain. Kimura has often won the annual auction in the past. Pixabay

“The celebration surrounding the annual Pacific bluefin auction hides how deeply in trouble this species really is,” said Jamie Gibbon, associate manager for global tuna conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

There are signs of progress toward protecting the bluefin, and Japan and other governments have backed plans to rebuild Pacific bluefin stocks, with a target of 20 percent of historic levels by 2034.

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Decades-old Tsukiji was one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations as well as the world’s biggest fish market. The new market opened in October. A few businesses stayed in Tsukiji but nearly all of the 500-plus wholesalers and other businesses shifted to Toyosu.

Tsukiji is scheduled to be redeveloped, though for now it’s being turned into a parking lot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (VOA)