Apollo 8: First to the Moon

Apollo 11 tends to get most of the limelight, but many forget that Apollo 8 was the first mission to the Moon. While Apollo 8 did not land on the Moon, they were the first to leave Earth and orbit the Moon in December 1968.

It was a daring mission led by the incomparable Frank Borman. Jim Lovell, the future commander of the Apollo 13 mission, and Bill Anders rounded out the crew.

The crew of the historic Apollo 8
Bill Anders, James Lovell and Frank Borman

On Christmas Eve 1968 during a live television transmission heard by an estimated 2 billion people, each crew member read a section from the Book of Genesis (verses 1-10). Borman finished the broadcast by wishing a Merry Christmas to everyone on Earth with, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."

(As an aside, it's almost unimaginable that religious content like this would be permitted on a broadcast today. If it was, they would have to include a message from every conceivable religion (and atheists) as to be as "inclusive" as possible. Some would call this "progress" I assume.)

The signed limited print above was issued by the San Diego Air and Space Museum in 2008 -- the 40th anniversary of the mission. As space collectors know, Bill Anders is an exceedingly difficult signer, making an Apollo 8 crew signed item one of the least common and most desirable Apollo crews.

Story of the Ted Williams “Thumper” postcards

The Ted William’s “Thumper” postcards often appear for sale. The signatures are generally authentic; however, it is possible that unsigned versions of the card exist where a forgery could be added.

So, where did these Thumper postcards come from?

Reportedly, Ted Williams had a business interest in an orange grove. When someone ordered a certain quantity of oranges, they received a free signed postcard. A larger 5.5 x 8.5 print also exists, and presumably these were sent with larger orders.
Whitey Ford Thumper Postcard

Interestingly, there are also Thumper signed postcards for others players as well including Brooks Robinson, Whitey Ford, Stan Musial and others. The quality of the artwork varies greatly. It is unclear if these were also "orange grove" giveaways." The Williams postcard bears a nice likeness, while some others -- notably the Ford -- are somewhat dis-proportioned and cartoonish.

Ted Williams Thumper Postcard envelope

RR Auction Spring 2013 Space & Aviation Auction

It's once again time for RR Auction's Spring Space & Aviation Auction.

While the video focuses on the flown equipment, there are also a wide selection of top notch autographed items in the auction.

All lots are current available for your viewing pleasure in preview.

As some regular readers may know, I am Steve Zarelli, RR's space authenticator.

Beware of inkjet printed autographs

This Neil Armstrong signed "cut" was sent to me recently for review. The moment I took it from the envelope my radar went off because it was not a 3x5 index card, but printer photo type paper cut to the shape of a 3x5 card.

I also immediately knew something was amiss because the signature seemed too "flat." It was on the surface of the paper, but there was no ink streaking.

Here is what it looked like under magnification:

So, it was a high quality inkjet print. This "signature" is composed of dots, not ink from a pen.

I have seen a number of these printed signatures and it appears to be a growing problem. Often they are matted in a display  -- at arm's length and under glass they can be more deceptive. As always, caveat emptor!

UACC Autograph Authentication Course: April 20 - 21, 2013

The UACC will hold its Basic Autograph Authentication Course at the next Hollywood Show in Los Angeles, April 20 - 21. The hands-on course will include identification of the most common fake autographs including Autopens and stamped signatures.

The course is free to UACC members and $5.00 to all others. Course will be taught by Michael Hecht, UACC President and Kevin Segall, Proprietor of Collector's Shangri-La.

You can get discounted tickets to the show here.

Neil Armstrong signed baseball: Is it real, or is it Memorex?

Once in a while, you'll find a fake autograph and know precisely where it was copied from.

In the Fall 2012 RR Space Auction, I reviewed and authenticated this Neil Armstrong signed baseball.

Today, I stumbled across this alleged Neil Armstrong signed baseball at Coach's Corner Auctions.

In my opinion, the Coach's Corner example was almost certainly modeled from the authentic exemplar offered by RR Auction. But note the slowness, hesitation and lack of confidence in the Coach's Corner ball.