Some scraps and trimmings from the flag planted on the moon by Neil Armstrong in 1969 failed to sell at auction over the weekend, despite having been described as the ‘ultimate’ piece of space memorabilia.
The scraps had an estimated value of $100,000 to $150,000, but failed to reach the reserve price of $95,000, attracting a highest bid of just $60,000.
While the scraps formed part of the flag planted on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, they never actually made it off the ground. In order to make the flag rigid, a strip was removed to fit a set of grommets to attach it to an aluminium arm. NASA engineer Tom Moser retrieved the scraps and kept them.
Later, he attached the pieces to a presentation plaque showing the flag flying on the lunar surface. Neil Armstrong – who was a neighbor of Moser – signed it a couple of weeks after the flight.
“This is undoubtedly the most important Apollo 11 piece of memorabilia ever offered and one of the most important pieces of modern Americana ever to come on the market,” says auction house Goldberg Auctions.
“It is believed that the flag no longer exists on the lunar surface due to the effects of solar radiation, temperature changes, and age. That would make these pieces the last remnants of this historic flag.”
Many other flags flown to the moon and back did sell, some for surprisingly affordable prices. A US flag flown on the 1969 Apollo 9 mission, for example, was snapped up for just $1,888.