April 26, 2010
Still picking yourself up off the floor after reading our recent post about the $152,000 that was paid at auction for Neil Armstrong’s autograph, along with his famous “one small step” quote, written on a sheet of the Apollo 11 flight plan?
Here’s what Armstrong had to say in his 2005 biography by James Hansen about rumors of such a memento:
“The ultimate Armstrong memento, [collector Robert] Pearlman relates, would be a signed picture or letter that includes Neil’s famous quote ‘one small step.’ For years it was believed that no authentic examples of such an item existed. Recently, ‘an authentic example,’ signed while Neil was still in quarantine, surfaced, and though it never sold, many thought it could easily reach $25,000, if not higher. Armstrong categorically denounces any such item as a fake. ‘I know that to be false, because I have never, ever quoted myself. From day one, I never did that. So it doesn’t exist anywhere. Not for my mom, not for the Smithsonian, not for anybody—there is not one anywhere. Not in quarantine or any other time. I never did one.’ “
Armstrong hasn’t given an autograph in years. According to his biography, he signed anything he was asked to for the first fifteen or so years after the moon landing. Then, dealers of collectibles began misrepresenting themselves as school teachers or children, asking for signed photos by mail. By 1993, Armstrong saw that forgeries of his signature were being sold on the Internet, and stopped giving his autograph, advice that Charles Lindbergh had given him in September 1969 at a banquet of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Nonetheless, Armstrong’s autograph, according to Paul Fraser Collectibles of the United Kingdom, is the most valuable in the world, and fetches more than $7,500 these days. Here’s Fraser’s top ten list:
10. Mick Jagger
7. Bob Dylan
6. Muhammad Ali
5. J.K. Rowling
4. Queen Elizabeth II
3. Paul McCartney
2. Tiger Woods
1. Neil Armstrong