BOSTON — A Neil Armstrong-signed photograph depicting him taking mankind’s “giant leap” sold for $91,451 at RR Auction during its April 15-22 Space Exploration and Aviation sale. The glossy 10 x 8in photo of Neil Armstrong just before setting foot on the lunar surface is signed “Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11.”
Captured from NASA’s original video transmission of the historic event, this is one of the most recognizable images of the lunar landing: Armstrong taking his first step onto the landing pad, seconds before delivering what is arguably the most famous quote of the 20th century. As the Apollo 11 astronauts touched down on the moon and the first television transmissions made it to earth, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California was called to work.
Responsible for altering the images to photo film, the photo development team there was first to see and handle most of the now-famous images. In appreciation for his hard work, NASA gave the man in charge of the JPL this photo, one of a handful of images of Armstrong on the lunar surface (as the man behind the camera, he is absent from almost all photos from the landing).
As coincidence would have it, the technician’s sister lived in the same neighborhood as Neil and Jan Armstrong in Bethesda, Maryland, and he was introduced to the astronaut and his wife during a family visit. A gracious Armstrong gladly signed this photo, which has been in the possession of the family of the head of NASA’s Photo Department Richard Windmiller, Sr. until now. Uninscribed and boldly signed with his name and the scarce addition of the words “Apollo 11,” this represents the pinnacle of Armstrong signed photos.
“Because there was only a black and white video camera recording of Armstrong’s first step, this photo is extremely significant because it was made at the time from the original video footage.” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.
Other highlights from the auction include a lunar meteorite which sold for $81,251; Jo Schirra’s Mercury-era flown charm bracelet, which sold for $55,000; Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11-flown silver Robbins Medal, which sold for $37,500; and an Apollo 15-flown IV crewmen tether worn by Jim Irwin, which sold for $34,787.
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