The Moon Landings and first Moon Walk are among the most important events in recent human history – less for scientific reasons than for metaphorical ones, I’d say. So the 50th anniversary of the Neil Armstrong’s ‘Giant Leap’ was bound to create more than a flurry of interest when it came to auctions, and so it proved.
Simple pieces of equipment, along with photographs, have acquired huge iconic status, culminating in the $1.82 million taken for original tapes of that first famous Moon Walk.
Sold for a little over $200 in a government surplus auction in 1976 (can you believe that?!) to a prescient NASA intern, the tapes are apparently much sharper than the hazy moon shots transmitted across the planet on July 20, 1969 via what was then fairly new and basic satellite technology.
Looking at news reports in the past couple of weeks, it is clear that some of the images captured by the astronauts on the various Saturn and Apollo missions are now seen more as art than scientific record, none more so than Earthrise, the first view of the Earth as it rose above the lunar horizon, taken by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders on December 24, 1968 and hailed as “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken” by nature photographer Galen Rowell.
The 50th anniversary may be over, but this now mature collecting field is here to stay.