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Houston, We Have A Collectible
Collecting Apollo 13, Thirty+ Years Later
by Robert Pearlman

April 2010 marked the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13, NASA's "successful failure." The flight was intended to be the third mission to the Moon's surface but an explosion forced the landing to be aborted. James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr., and Fred W. Haise Jr., were stranded 200,000 miles from Earth but were safely returned due to the dedicated efforts of the engineers and scientists in Mission Control.

apollo 13

Chances are, you already knew that. You either lived through the mission April 11-17, 1970 (probably glued to your radio or television) or you relived the six day flight 25 years later during the two hour, highly accurate, Hollywood blockbuster.

What you might not know is how Apollo 13 memorabilia spans the many categories of collecting.

Unlike other areas of collecting, which are often classified by the nature of the item being collected (e.g. stamps, rocks, or cookie jars), space memorabilia is often a bit of everything. Space exploration captured our imaginations and as such, it reached into almost every area of our fancy.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with Apollo 13. The combination of the mission and the movie resulted in the public embracing the flight and elevating the crew's names to household words. Today, Jim Lovell gives Neil Armstrong a run for his money as to whom is the better known astronaut (regardless if a percentage of the population believes Lovell looks like or is Tom Hanks). The desire to own a part of the mission remains strong.

The following is a guide to how Apollo 13 memorabilia fits into some of the more popular areas of collecting. It is by no means comprehensive. Listing every item would require much more than a single column, let alone an entire website.

When Apollo 12 and Skylab 3 astronaut Alan Bean retired from NASA, he took his hobby of painting to the next level. "I realized I might be able to paint some things that no one ever painted, people on the moon." said Bean of his decision. "So painting the adventures of Apollo became my quest. I didn't want to lose those stories of the astronauts. I wanted to share them with others."

Bean is now respected as one of the leading space artists in the world. His unique perspective (having actually walked on the Moon) coupled with his attention to detail have resulted in his paintings being in great demand.

Bean's Apollo 13 tribute is no different. "Houston, We Have A Problem" depicts the Apollo 13 spacecraft at the point of explosion, forever changing the mission from landing on the Moon to returning the astronauts to Earth safely.

Released July 15, 1995 in cooperation with MCA/Universal Pictures, the prints (limited to 1000) were sold out almost immediately. Fortunately, some are still available on the secondary market.

Issued to coincide with the release of the movie, the prints were also signed by Apollo 13 crew members James Lovell and Fred Haise, and by Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ron Howard and of course, artist Alan Bean.

Continued on Page Two

1. History/Art
2. Autographs/Books
3. Coins/Medallions/Stamps/Toys
4. Ultimate Memorabilia/ Conclusion
5. Resources/ Robert Pearlman
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