An iconic moon selfie, the world’s first photograph of Earth seen from space and a photo of the first men on the moon, headlines and onto the covers of international publications across the world. These are just three of the moments depicted in the 74 original NASA photographs from the space race to the Moon, which are now up for auction at Bruun Rasmussen on 9 March for a combined value of DKK 1.5 million.
“That’s one small step for (a) man, a giant leap for mankind”
The famous words spoken by astronaut Neil Armstrong in front of the whole world in 1969, as he became the first human being to set foot on the Moon. All the astronauts participating in NASA’s lunar missions were equipped with a state-of-the-art Hasselblad camera to capture the new and previously unseen world and document this highpoint in human endeavours. Carefully selected photographs were at the time published on the front pages of major US magazines. From a private collection, we can now present 74 original NASA photographs from the Apollo 8-17 missions at auction for a total estimate of DKK 1.5 million.
“It was truly a time of greatness, and there was a sense of incredible accomplishment because we as humans had succeeded in making it to the Moon. A belief in our own abilities and a sense of limitless potential abounded in society, and despite the crises that also existed during that time, humanity achieved some of the greatest things within space exploration – putting a human on the Moon. The spirit of the times and the world history that was written during this period shines through clearly in the photographs. Knowing that these are the original photographs taken by the astronauts during the biggest missions of their lives presents a great thrill in this digital age,” says Lærke Bøgh, Head of Department and Specialist at Bruun Rasmussen.
Photographs from the Front Pages of National Geographic and LIFE
Several of the collection’s photographs have belonged to NASA’s own archives and were not known to the public, while selected copies appeared on the covers of major influential American magazines such as National Geographic and LIFE to tell the world about the United States’ success in the lunar race. The auction includes three iconic photographs that made it to the covers in 1969. Furthermore, 27 of the photographs have been published inside the two magazines.
On the cover of National Geographic (December 1969), the words “First Explorers on the Moon” were printed across the auction’s photograph of the Moon’s first explorers: the moonwalking Buzz Aldrin in full astronaut gear and Neil Armstrong, who photographed Aldrin and can be glimpsed in the reflection of Aldrin’s visor in what could be described as a ‘moon selfie’. The same photograph also graced the cover of LIFE (August 1969) and is the most famous image of a human on the Moon.
LIFE also had two other covers with photographs now up for auction. One cover (January 1969) is the very first photograph of the Earth taken by a human. The photographer was astronaut William Anders and the image shows the beautiful marble-like planet floating in space with the headline “The incredible year ’68”. The second cover (August 1969) is with a photograph of the American flag placed on the surface of the Moon, as a symbol of the conquest of the new world by man, or more particularly the Americans, with the simple caption stating “On the Moon”.