One Giant Sale: Neil Armstrong's Collection Goes to Auction

Admirers of Neil Armstrong and space exploration have a chance to own artifacts and mementos that belonged to the modest man who became a global hero by becoming the first human to walk on the moon.

The personal collection of Armstrong, who died in his native Ohio in 2012, will be offered for sale in a series of auctions handled by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, beginning Nov. 1-2 and continuing in May and November 2019.

Apollo 11 Crew 1969
Apollo 11 astronauts Col. Edwin E. Aldrin, lunar module pilot, left; Neil Armstrong, flight commander, center and Lt. Michael Collins, command module pilot, right, stand next to their spacecraft in 1969,

The collection includes a variety of artifacts from Armstrong's 1969 lunar landing and private mementos that include pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer that the astronaut took with him to the moon.

Other items that went to the moon with Armstrong include a U.S. flag, the largest size typically flown during Apollo missions; a United Nations flag; a Texas state flag and other various state flags; and some Robbins Medallions.

Heritage Auctions
Apollo 11 Flown "Lone Star" State Flag of Texas Directly From The Armstrong Family Collection, Certified and Encapsulated by Collectibles Authentication Guaranty. A 5.75" x 4.25" silk flag of the great state of Texas (Disclaimer: Heritage is based in Texas) (and so is the Johnson Space Center). This was flown with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, the brave modern explorers who risked it all to fly on the first manned mission to land on the moon. This is actually only the second Apollo 11 flown Texas flag Heritage has ever presented, the first since 2007. A prize historical artifact for a lucky proud Texan. Excellent, sealed in a numbered archival sleeve.

The sterling silver medallions were paid for by the crews of Apollo missions and were available for purchase only by NASA astronauts. Armstrong's collection also includes a rare gold medallion.

FILE - In this July 20, 1969 file photo provided by NASA, astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, smiles for a photo inside the Lunar Module while it rested on the lunar surface. Armstrong was first out the lunar module, Eagle, onto the dusty surface of Tranquility Base. (AP Photo/NASA, File)

Among the more personal items to be auctioned are a Purdue University centennial flag from Armstrong's alma mater that traveled on Apollo 11 and his Boy Scout cap.

Armstrong's son, Mark Armstrong, said his father never talked to him about what he wanted done with the large amount of items he kept.

"I don't think he spent much time thinking about it," Armstrong said. "He did save all the items, so he obviously felt they were worth saving."

Mark Armstrong, who lives in suburban Cincinnati, said his father did keep all of his "flown" items together.

Faced with the responsibility of conserving, preserving and insuring irreplaceable items and honoring their father's legacy, Armstrong and his brother, Rick, found that some things needed restoration, and that some required research to be properly identified.

A photo of astronaut Neil A. Armstrong exiting an Ames Bell X-14 at NASA.

"We felt like the number of people that could help us identify them and give us the historical context was diminishing and that the problem of understanding that context would only get worse over time," he said.

The Armstrongs turned to Sarasota, Florida-based Collectibles Authentication Guaranty for help with preserving and authenticating the artifacts and memorabilia and chose Heritage Auctions for the sales.

Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions, said it handles numerous categories of collectibles that appeal to various collectors, but items connected with space seem to have a universal appeal.

In the Shadow of the Moon
ThinkFilm provided this photo of (left to right) Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin after the July, 1969 Apollo 11 mission from "In the Shadow of the Moon." (AP Photo/ThinkFilm)

"Space is one of the very, very few categories that every single person seems to be interested in," Rohan said. "You show somebody something from the space program, and they are fascinated by it."

One of Armstrong's sons, Mark Armstrong, says some of the collection items are historically significant while others will produce laughs.

MORE: Heritage Auctions online

Bids can be taken online, by phone or in person.

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