DescriptionNASA Astronaut Group Two: Large Color Photo on Mat Signed by All, Directly from the Personal Collection of Astronaut Ed White II. A stunning and rare assemblage of signatures around a photo of the "New Nine," the first new group of astronauts chosen by NASA after the original "Mercury Seven." The Gemini Program had been announced and this second group was chosen to face new and more technical challenges; four of the nine had advanced engineering degrees. This photo pictures them wearing NASA training jumpsuits and gathered around a model of the two-man Gemini capsule; all are looking at the camera and smiling. Signed as follows (clockwise from top left): "Neil Armstrong" (faded), "Frank Borman", "John Young", "Thomas P. Stafford", "Charles Conrad Jr." (1930-1999), "James A. McDivitt", "James Lovell", "Elliot See" (1927-1966), and "Edward H. White II" (1930-1967). Beneath the photo, White has written: "The 'Second Generation'/ 17 September 1962" signifying the date of their announcement. This is an amazing group of American heroes and includes the first man on the moon (three moonwalkers total), the first American to walk in space, the commander of the first mission to the moon, and the commander of the first shuttle mission. Altogether, these nine astronauts flew on a total of twenty-five space missions. Framed to an overall 17.75" x 21.75". A very rare item from the personal collection of one of those very heroes. The scarcity of these group-signed photos is emphasized in a period letter on NASA letterhead (copy included) from Ed White II where he states: "We have established a policy of no group signatures due to the diverse and different schedules we are on. It would be an impossible task to provide such group signed documents." Excellent condition (except as noted).
These brave former fighter and test pilots did have a sense of humor though. Included in this lot is an original 4.25" x 5.25" B&W Polaroid photo from this same photography session where, instead of looking at the camera and smiling like they were instructed, all nine are looking away in various directions. Neil Armstrong's pose is particularly noteworthy as his head is tilted back and his mouth wide open as he looks up into space.
Included with this lot is a signed certificate of authenticity from Ed White III (his son) stating: "This autographed photograph of the second group of nine Astronauts selected by NASA on September 17, 1962, is an extremely rare piece of Space Memorabilia. As indicated by the included copy of a letter from my Father in 1963, very few Group 2 photographs were signed by all nine of the astronauts. In addition, Elliot See was killed in a plane crash in February, 1966, eliminating any further Group 2 autographed items of any kind. My father hand inscribed this photograph titling it the 'Second Generation' and he also added the date of their selection by NASA. I believe is the only time he ever did this. This Group 2 photo was taken by LIFE Magazine for an upcoming issue and they also took a candid 'outtake' photo, which has never been published. This candid photo is included in this sale along with the autographed Group 2 photo. My father placed this autographed photo in the center of his study wall where it remained until it was loaned to the Ed White Youth Center in Seabrook, Texas, in 1972. It remained on display there until the Youth Center was closed in 2007. After being returned it was restored using the original LIFE photo as it appeared in the magazine. This is the final autographed Group 2 photo owned by the Edward H. White II Estate and the only one hand inscribed by my father."
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