Starting the day was the sale of a 1917 Curtiss MF Seagull Flying Boat. Sourced from the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio, this was the first time a vintage plane had been auctioned in Manhattan. Designed by one of the leading pioneers of American aviation and archrival of the Wright brothers, Glenn H. Curtiss, the Seagull represents a significant period in aviation history. Following a round of competitive bidding, the Flying Boat brought $506,000 against an estimate of $300,000-$500,000.
Following the sale of the Curtiss Flying Boat, Bonhams presented its annual Space History sale. Featuring over 290 lots, the sale contained objects and ephemera from all of the most memorable NASA space flight programs including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, and the Space Shuttle.
An Apollo 11 flight plan sheet signed and inscribed by Neil Armstrong, ‘One small step for a man – one giant leap for mankind’ far exceeded its estimate selling for $152,000 against $60,000-80,000 to an American bidder. Given to John McLeaish, NASA press officer, by Armstrong while both were in quarantine after the trip, this is particularly unusual as Armstrong has said he never wrote this phrase for anyone, and no other example has ever come to auction.
An Apollo 11 mission patch consigned directly from Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins was also offered. Flown to the moon and signed by all three Apollo 11 astronauts, the piece sold for $85,400 against an estimate of $40,000-60,000.
With the sale taking place on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 13 disaster, it was fitting that the emergency checklist list from that flight was featured. Used and marked after the explosion by the Apollo 13 crew on April 13, 1970, the document is a testament to one of the most celebrated triumphs of American 20th century space flight. Carrying an estimate of $20,000-30,000, the piece brought a final price of $45,750.
“A great day for collectors of all things concerned with flight, be it from water, from land, or into space,” says Malcolm Barber, Group Managing Director of Bonhams. “We were delighted to start the day with an exceptional result that exceeded our pre-sale expectations for a truly remarkable aircraft – the 1917 Curtiss MF Flying Boat. And, we were then heartened with the continued enthusiasm from members of the space collecting community who gathered in our mezzanine sale room here at Madison Avenue to bid on some unique lots that were directly connected with the Apollo space program, including the Apollo 13 emergency check list. Sold 40 years to the day of the explosion, the list made $45,750. Bonhams continues to serve the needs of collectors around the world, while expanding our markets globally – interesting, the sale of the Curtiss marked the first time a vintage aircraft had been offered for sale in Manhattan.”
For more information: Bonhams.com