This extraordinary and breathtaking image of a space walk, above, is just one of a group of 22 large-format photographs from various NASA missions, dating from 1965 to the 1980s, being offered as a single lot in Swann Auction Galleries’ Icons & Images: Photographs & Photobooks sale on February 14.
Selected from NASA’s archives by Barbara Hitchcock and Peter Riva and approved by several of the astronauts, the photographs were organised into a traveling exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution titled Sightseeing: A Space Panorama, 1985. Aside from the exhibition catalogue, many of the photos had never before been published by the space agency.
The images include more breathtaking and iconic views of astronauts Bruce McCandless, Buzz Aldrin, Charles Duke, and Ed White as they traversed through space, taken during the Gemini IV, Apollo 11, Skylab 3, and STS-41-B (Space Shuttle Challenger) missions. An array of painterly and abstract topographical views of the Earth, as witnessed from beyond its atmosphere, completes the lot.
These are the only known Cibachrome (Ilfochrome) prints made from original NASA positives. They range in size from 19½ x 19½ to 20 x 24 inches, many with numeric notations, in pencil and ink, and a few with a “printed by David Travis 1985” hand stamp on verso. All the photographs were taken between 1965 and ’84, and printed circa 1985.
Their significance has been thrown even more into focus by the approaching 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing in 2019, which is attracting more collectors to this field.
The estimate is $15,000 to $25,000.
The auction also includes an archive of six binders containing approximately 280 photographs depicting Apollo Missions 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, and 17, from launch to splashdown. Featured are many iconic views of the historic Apollo 11 mission, showing Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon for the first time, the memorable images of the plastic American flag, and Armstrong’s reflection in Aldrin’s helmet visor. Also included are multiple views of Earth as seen from outer space, and various photographs of astronauts performing scientific experiments on the Moon’s surface. There are 84 silver and 199 chromogenic prints in the binders, ranging in size from 4 x 5 ins to 8 x 8 ins and 8 x 10 ins. Some have captions affixed to recto, while many have notations on verso, in pencil and ink; also present are a number of reproductions after photographs as well as Apollo related-ephemera in the form of decals, plaques, and letters, all dated 1969-72.
The estimate is $7,000-10,000.
Further Space Age lots include a sequence of 10 photographic assemblages, each work depicting a separate section of the Moon (estimate: $5,000 to 7,500) and a collection of 67 photographs, arranged in mini-albums and frames, documenting the Apollo 11 Moon landing, many with date stamps on verso for 1969 (estimate: $4,000 to 6,000). [Swann Galleries]