There is no doubt that most Americans are aware of the passing of NASA astronaut, Neil Armstrong. Likewise, there is little doubt that while space collectors, saddened by the news, are aware that Armstrong and other NASA collectibles will more than likely see a jump in demand and purchase price.
For me, I see astronaut collectibles from a different perspective. Considering that all of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo mission teams used military aviators, I tend to focus on their stellar pre-NASA careers and the collectibles that are derived from that era of their lives. The reality for me is that I couldn’t afford anything from any of these men as the demand and subsequent competition is far too great which, of course, drives the prices up.
The Militaria collector seeking items from astronauts like Neil Armstrong are for certain going to require impeccable timing, unlimited resources and rock-solid networking connections to even have an opportunity to acquire anything related to these veterans’ service.
One item that I added to my collection was a set of naval astronaut insignia, or “astronaut wings”, to enhance my growing group of aviator’s wings. While I have no direct family connection to anyone who flew in the military, naval aviation is of particular interest to me. The “wings of gold” are typically beautifully crafted and are aesthetically pleasing.
The astronaut variation, created in the 1980s, were an afterthought when it comes to the astronauts of NASA’s pursuit of the moon, they still have some significance to those men from its heyday. Two years ago, in March of 2010, naval aviators Neil Armstrong and James Lovell were the guests of USS Eisenhower’s (then) commanding officer, Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, to be honored by being presented with their naval astronaut wings of gold.
Unfortunately for collectors, most of the artifacts from these men are only viewable in museums throughout the country – which for fans of NASA, like myself, is a good thing.