ACCOMPANIED BY: Original sale material from the Sieger firm, including: Die Mondbrief Story, Baden-Württemberg: Hermann E. Sieger, n.d., Pamphlet, 54 pages — Angebot eines mit Apollo-15 Zum Mond Geflogen Briefes, 2 pages — Typed letter signed on the letterhead of Hermann E. Sieger, 2 November 1971, 1 page, addressed to Hermann Siegrist — Typed letter signed on the letterhead of Hermann Walter Sieger, 5 November 1971, 1 page, addressed to Hermann Siegrist — additional commemorative philatelic material.
By the spring of 1971 NASA had executed 8 successful manned missions as part of the Apollo Program, and it had become abundantly clear that there was a strong market for “astrophilately” — commemorative postage stamps or covers depicting space travel, which were canceled on the launch dates for the respective missions. An enterprising European stamp dealer named Hermann Sieger, working alongside astronaut corps acquaintance Horst Eiermann, recognized the commercial potential for flown philatelic souvenirs, and approached the crew of Apollo 15 with a proposal. Dave Scott, Al Worden, and Jim Irwin, agreed to carry an additional 400 covers in their Personal Preference Kits (PPKs) in exchange for $7,000 scholarship funds for the crew's children. The covers were prepared for flight according to official procedures, but were not listed as being in Scott's PPK due to an oversight by the personnel who packaged and stowed the flight equipment. This arrangement was in opposition to regulations laid down by Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton, which stipulated that astronauts were forbidden from using their positions for private gain.
Altogether, the Apollo 15 crew carried 632 covers on their expedition — 232 authorized covers, and 400 unauthorized covers (100 for Eiermann and Sieger, and 100 for each astronaut). However, it was only the 400 unauthorized covers which spent from 30 July to 2 August 1971 on the lunar surface inside the lunar module "Falcon." Upon their return to Earth, the covers were INSCRIBED and SIGNED by the crew, and the unauthorized covers were notarized to signify that they had landed in the Hadley-Appennine region of the moon. Following the discovery of the subsequent sales of undeclared covers, approximately 300 were recovered and impounded by NASA. Sieger received all of his 100 flown covers in late September or early October, and began to market them for an asking price of DM 4,850. By November, all 100 were spoken for, netting the dealer just over $150,000. THE PRESENT LOT INCLUDES THE SCARCE ORIGINAL PROSPECTUS AND MARKETING MATERIAL FROM THE SIEGER PHILATELIC FIRM, AND CORRESPONDENCE RELATED TO THE ACQUISITION OF THE COVER BY HERR HERMANN SIEGRIST IN NOVEMBER, 1971.
By June of 1972, the public had become generally aware of the matter through widespread news coverage. Though the astronauts had eventually refused compensation from Sieger and Eiermann in an attempt to rectify their mistake, the philatelic cabal had negative consequences for the crew. They were called upon to appear before a closed meeting of the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, and were leveled with an official reprimand from NASA, who announced that "their actions will be given due consideration in their selection for future assignments,” before pulling Scott, Worden, and Irwin from their assignment as the backup crew for Apollo 17. None of the three Apollo 15 astronauts ever flew in space again. In 1983 the astronauts successfully filed a suit against the government for the return of all of the impounded covers.
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