Appraisal Video: (4:41)
Collectibles, Sports Memorabilia
Mroczek Brothers Auctioneers & Associates
GUEST: For 16 years, I was one of the test directors on the NASA Zero-G airplane, lovingly called the Vomit Comet. We flew parabolic trajectories to simulate zero gravity or lunar gravity as required. And this particular one was given to me when I retired in 1977. It has 16 different astronaut signatures on there, plus some of my co-workers.
APPRAISER: And how did you first become involved?
GUEST: Through an accident. So they were looking for volunteers and I raised my hand and we went from there.
APPRAISER: And when was that, what year?
GUEST: I started in this program in '62. I went to work for NASA, which was then called NACA at the time, in 1954. I either was wearing a space suit developing the lunar surface hardware or training astronauts.
APPRAISER: What can you tell me about this photo here with the flag?
GUEST: That is Al Shepard. I don't have his autograph on there, but Al was the first American in space, later flew on Apollo 14, I believe. We practiced everything, and that's Shepard deploying an American flag that he later deployed on the moon.
APPRAISER: And tell me about the photo here.
GUEST: That's me on the left and that's Marsha Ivins on the right. Marsha was an engineer with NASA beginning about 1974 and I worked with her on several occasions on the airplane. And when I left in 1977, shortly after I left, she became an astronaut and flew on five shuttle missions.
APPRAISER: Now, most of the photographs are personalized to you.
APPRAISER: So you obtained these in person.
GUEST: In person, or in the case of that one...
APPRAISER: The Mercury Seven.
GUEST: Yeah, I took it to the astronaut office and left it there and they signed it.
APPRAISER: You do have some in your collection that are autopen, but the good majority of them are actually signed by the astronauts. Tell me about the photo here of Gordon Cooper.
GUEST: That was a standard public release photograph and I just took it up to the astronaut office and he signed it.
APPRAISER: What's your favorite memory of the Vomit Comet?
GUEST: We occasionally flew celebrities. Probably my favorite celebrity was Bozo the Clown. The real Larry Harmon flew with us one time. That was probably one of my favorites. That was fun.
APPRAISER: And how did he do on the flight?
GUEST: He did okay.
APPRAISER: What would you say is your most memorable event?
GUEST: The day before the day before Apollo 11, we flew with Armstrong and Aldrin on their final training mission for the Apollo 11 flight. Buzz tried to do back flips in lunar gravity and he made it on one of them, but it was a little bit scary to me because my job was to make sure he didn't get hurt.
APPRAISER: Have you ever had these items appraised before?
APPRAISER: Well, we've selected some of them to bring out today, as well as... you also have, though, a fabulous album with a couple dozen more images as part of your collection. Many of them are signed, some aren't signed. As far as value, starting with the Mercury Seven photo, at auction, this photo would sell for between $3,000 and $5,000. On the Gordon Cooper photo, this one we would expect to sell at auction for $500 to $1,000. The photo of Al Shepard I would expect to sell at auction for between $200 to $400. The photo of you with Marsha Ivins, I would put a value at auction of $200 to $400, as well. On the Apollo 11 signed photos, signed by all three of the astronauts there, we would expect those to sell at auction for between $3,000 and $5,000 each.
APPRAISER: Your Vomit Comet photo with all the signatures there, that at auction would sell for between $3,000 and $4,000.
GUEST: Wow, that's amazing.
APPRAISER: The collection in total, we would put an estimate between $35,000 and $45,000 at auction.
GUEST: Wow. You've got to be kidding.
APPRAISER It's a great collection.
GUEST: I am just speechless. I thought maybe $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, something like that.
APPRAISER Yeah, thank you for bringing it.
GUEST: Thank you.