UNAUTHORIZED POSTAL ENVELOPE AND LARGE US FLAG CARRIED TO THE LUNAR SURFACE ON APOLLO 15
Lot 160
UNAUTHORIZED POSTAL ENVELOPE AND LARGE US FLAG CARRIED TO THE LUNAR SURFACE ON APOLLO 15
US$ 12,000 - 18,000
£ 9,100 - 14,000

The Space History Sale

21 Apr 2015, 10:00 EDT

New York

Lot Details
UNAUTHORIZED POSTAL ENVELOPE AND LARGE US FLAG CARRIED TO THE LUNAR SURFACE ON APOLLO 15
FLOWN United States flag, silk, 8 x 11 inches. Mounted together with: an AUTOGRAPH NOTE SIGNED, 6.5 X 4.5 inches, to James Irwin from Commander DAVID SCOTT reading "Jim: 8 Flags + 2 Patches – 1/3 Of Those That Reached Hadley 6 On 1 Aug, 71. DAVE"; a NASA 8 x 10 inch color lithograph of James Irwin in a spacesuit saluting the US flag with the Lunar Module background INSCRIBED "His Love From The Moon"; an unauthorized flown Apollo 15 postal cover, 3.5 x 6.5 inches, with Apollo 15 crew emblem, and two postmarks, one from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) dated July 26, 1971 (launch date) and the other from the U.S.S. Okinawa dated August 7, 1971 (splashdown and crew recovery date). The upper left-hand corner reads: "THIS ENVELOPE WAS CARRIED TO THE MOON ABOARD THE APOLLO 15. #24 OF 400 TO THE LUNAR SURFACE IN L.M. 'FALCON'"; Affidavit SIGNED by ALFRED M. WORDEN, DAVID R. SCOTT, and JAMES B. IRWIN. The NASA confiscated serial number 077, noted on the affidavit, appears to recto of envelope.

Cover SIGNED: "DAVE SCOTT," "AL WARDEN" and "JIM IRWIN." A COMPLEX HISTORY AND PERHAPS MOST CONTROVERSIAL OF LUNAR SURFACE ARTIFACTS.

All personal flight crew items planned for flight on an Apollo mission were required to be submitted in writing for NASA approval. This envelope is one of the set not reported by Commander David Scott prior to the Apollo 15 mission. During the very early hours of July 26, 1971, this group of covers was postmarked with the Kennedy Space Center post office stamp cancelling machine, stored in a fire-retardant Beta cloth bag, then presented to Commander Scott. He stored the envelopes in one of his spacesuit pockets and carried them to the lunar surface. After recovery, the recently issued space theme "Decade of Achievement" dual 8-cent stamp was added and cancelled on the USS Okinawa.

Background: Sometime in 1970, a German stamp dealer named Herman Sieger made contract with David Scott through a third party. Sieger wanted around 100 envelops to be carried to the lunar surface and offered the three Apollo 15 crew members compensation to be held in a German savings account. The actual number of covers was increased to 400, with the crew keeping 298, less 2 that were damaged and not flown. Instructions were given to Sieger not to sell his 100 covers until after the end of the Apollo Program.

However, virtually all of those 100 covers were sold before the end of 1971. Around mid-summer 1972, this story came to the attention of the world press. A U.S. government investigation led to the confiscation of the remaining covers. NASA stated at the time: "The Apollo 15 crew exercised poor judgment in their actions. Therefore, Astronauts Scott, Worden and Irwin will be reprimanded and their actions given due consideration in their selection for future assignment."

In the early 1980s, Apollo 15 crew member Al Worden took the lead and got an out-of-court settlement from NASA for the return of the confiscated covers. Once returned, the Apollo 15 crew signed individual notarized affidavits dated 19 July 1983 certifying that each cover was flown to the lunar surface. The fact that the U.S. Postal Service had plans for NASA to carry over 200,000 special postal covers on a Space Shuttle flight during 1983 no doubt helped change the space agency's hard stance against the Apollo 15 crew.
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