It was supposed to have been the 3rd landing on the moon. Not only are the events a shining example of America’s fortitude and ingenuity but it reminded us all of how small and fragile we are. Lovell, Swigert and Haise were met with an explosion 200,000 miles from Earth that guaranteed they wouldn’t experience a lunar landing and the frightful possibility they may not make it back to Earth intact. Many people and tools were involved in their safe return but of the countless number the Lunar Module System Activation Checklist was the key to ensuring their destination.
“There are few Space artifacts as evocative or important as this little booklet,” said Michael Riley, Senior Historian at Heritage Auctions. “Without these successful calculations and the fast transfer of the information from one computer to the other, the Apollo 13 crew would not have known their position in space, possibly causing the outcome of the already ill-fated mission to be quite different.”
Ron Howard’s film Apollo 13 dramatized the moments where Lovell made the calculations to transfer the guidance data from the Command/Service Module (CSM) to the Lunar Module (LM): Aquarius. In the movie Tom Hanks (as Lovell) sums up the importance of the transfer: “We’ve got negative visibility in our star field and if this paperwork isn’t right, who knows where we’ll end up out here.”
As you can imagine we were extremely excited about offering this piece of Space Memorabilia. We expected the piece to bring around $25,000. We knew it was important to those in the collectible category and thought we may reach new collectors with the iconic piece of history.
Nothing could have prepared us for what really happened. A few days before the auction the checklist only had 4 bidders but was already commanding $30,000+. News agencies picked the story up and just hours before the auction started we were inundated with news requests and inquiries into the authenticity and the provenance.
When the moment of truth arrived I couldn’t take bids fast enough! For 5 minutes my team pulled bids from relatively unknown bidders from all around the country. From $10,000 we took 10% bid increases until we arrived at $325,000 dollars. I hammered the lot as a small calm settled in the auction room. With buyer’s premium, a small spiraled checklist, smudged and tattered, set a record and started a fire storm of news for selling for almost $390,000. READ ABOUT IT HERE