Collecting Apollo 11 Moon Landing Souvenirs 40 Years Later: What to Buy Now
On July 20th, we will celebrate the 41st Anniversary of Apollo 11's landing on the moon. Oh, what a high time for America! Not only did we win this race for space by landing the first men on the moon, but our Country was unified and cohesive. We collectively held our breath until the Astronauts returned home safely and then we whooped and hollered at their bravery and our historic achievement. The manned moon landing became one of the all-time milestones of the 20th Century. There is now increasing demand for souvenirs and mementos from 40 years ago. This is another collectible investment area worth pursuing - items to keep or to re-sell.
There is no better time than now to scout for Apollo 11 ephemera (various collectibles). Many authentic Apollo 11 collectibles are now priced ridiculously low (due to economic woes). Also, every time a significant anniversary approaches, sellers make their items available, hoping to profit on enhanced interest. I am not a Jonnie Sue-come-lately when it comes to Apollo 11. I have been collecting moon-landing items for 40 years, scooping up an item when I see it (but only at a low price).
My collection includes a valuable UPI bulletin announcement, from the UPI ticker tape went Apollo 11 took off from the moon (I worked as a reporter at UPI at the time) and 1969 newspapers and various vintage magazines reporting the Moon Landing details. One of my best treasure-hunting finds was a notebook full of original photographs from the Apollo 11 Mission (shown below). I found 20 of the photos in a plain black notebook, buried under a pile of school notebooks at a local thrift store. I had the photos authenticated as original (NOT part of the NASA set, but likely from someone associated with the ground control), and I sold off some of them several years ago. I've kept a dozen more to hand down, as I believe their value will grow. Also, I think the photos I saved are awesome; irreplaceable.
My photo notebook was a rare acquisition (one of the more memorable) that would be hard to duplicate, but you can still find numerous other Apollo 11 items worth your time and money. These items include:
1. Authentic Commemorative coins and tokens celebrating the original manned moon landing and its subsequent annual anniversaries. They were composed of copper, bronze and silver metal (the more valuable tokens were actually crafted from parts of original rockets). I saw some of these in the "sold" column on eBay. As I mentioned in another FZ article, coins and tokens have good investment value - here's a doublette for you (two reasons to collect tokens). Apollo 11 tokens are selling now in the $8-$40 range. I see them going up, over time.
2. Stamps. I know little about stamps, but first-day covers of the Moon Landing also have a life of their own. This collectible category is also a doublette (space collectible/stamp collectible), Apollo landing covers seem to be selling well on the internet sites I checked. Again, authentic stamps and covers are likely to increase in value.
3. Newspapers. These should be in good condition. In the old days, the bigger the headline type, the more important the story. Since newspapers are "folding", right and left, collecting printed history, as an investment, can also only increase in value. Newspapers were so often thrown away, and a good 1969 Apollo 11 newspaper is worth many times face value. If I saw a 1969 newspaper about the Moon landing, at a reasonable price, I'd buy it. As newspapers continue to fall, these prices will rise.
4. Magazines. It follows that original magazines, like those shown in my collection below, also will have increasing value, especially as more magazines become extinct (Ah, Domino, Gourmet...). If you can find them for little cost, I'd be a buyer here too, especially if I was building a collection.
5. Pins, pens, maps, mugs, glasses & other souvenir items. Here are some lesser collectibles in terms of value, but maybe not in terms of scarcity. If you collect vintage pin-backs (political, rock n roll or otherwise), Apollo Moon Landing pins might be a great addition to your collection. Same goes for writing pens.
6. Careful, careful on the signed and autographed items and some of the other more valuable. I've seen signatures listed at hundreds of dollars, but I'd want indisputable confirmation of any astronaut's autograph. Many items were auto-pen-signed; this is generally disclosed (but not always). As with all buying activities, check and double-check the reputation and integrity of the seller before you spend.
7. Expect to see more Apollo 11 Moon Landing items up for sale the closer we get to July 20. If you have some spare change, consider spending some of it on some of the items listed for bargain prices now on the internet. It is not impossible, but highly unlikely you'll run into many of the items named above at yard sales or flea markets - unless it's a very big flea market (like the one in Long Beach, CA).
8. Finally, if you weren't born before 1969, ask you parents or older friends and relatives just how exciting this year was. While you're asking, it's perfectly good etiquette to inquire if, by any chance, they have kept some newspapers, magazines or souvenirs from Apollo 11's Moon Landing. They just might surprise you with a pile of awesome Moon Landing goods. And then you will have your very own collection.
For further information, consult your friendly search engine for "Apollo 11 Moon Landing collectibles."