$2 bill flown on the "Free World's first two-manned space venture."Gemini 3 (Molly Brown) Flown Crew-Signed Two-Dollar Bill on Original Signed Certificate. A $2 United States Note, Series 1953C, signed to the left of Jefferson' portrait: "Gus Grissom/ GT-3", and to the right: "John Young/ 3-23-65", both in red felt tip. The bill is mounted to a 10" x 7.5" (sight size) certificate by Don Wagner, bearing the following text: "This is to certify that the currency with serial number A76270198A did as a matter of fact accompany 'Gus' Grissom & John Young on their three orbit flight, March 23, 1965, in the Gemini Space Craft 'Molly Brown.' Accomplishing the 'Free World's' first two-manned space venture.", beneath which are the signatures: "Gus Grissom" (1926-1967) and "John Young". Framed to an overall 11" x 8.5". Seldom offered and very desirable to both Space and Currency enthusiasts. Near pristine condition.
The story behind this flown $2 bill is told in Russell Still's Relics of the Space Race (Roswell, Georgia: PR Products, 1995): "On [Grissom's] Gemini 3 flight... a more aggressive plan for flying souvenirs was carried out by launch supervisors [Si] Parden, Joe Trambell, and Gunter Wendt's assistant, K.J. Day. The three gathered together a number of $1 and $2 bills as souvenirs for pad personnel... In spite of the scale of the operation, the trio managed to maintain it as one of the better-kept secrets of the space program. Without John Young's knowledge, Grissom OK'ed the plan. The currency was then wrapped in insulation and stuffed behind the Gemini's instrument panel on the right side. Gus, however, had his own covert scheme planned. Prior to the flight, Grissom asked the astronaut secretary, Lola Morrow, to gather together all the play money she could find... Grissom made the swap in the spacecraft. The flight went off as planned and Young and Grissom became the first American pair in space. Upon the spacecraft's return to the Cape, Day went in to retrieve the currency only to find that play money had mysteriously replaced the real greenbacks. He heard nothing from Grissom for two weeks. Then, one afternoon, Gus phoned to say that 'funny things can happen in space.'... Four more weeks passed without any further word from the astronaut. Finally, K. J. received a package. Inside were all the real bills, each signed by Grissom and Young in red ink. With their flown bills safely in hand, the trio asked McDonnell Aircraft Company inspector, Don Wagner, to design some nice looking certificates of authenticity. Day asked Grissom to have them signed by himself and Young... The certificates and bills were then quietly distributed to the Cape personnel." There is a list of the serial numbers of the flown bills on page 190 of this book; the serial number on this bill is included in that list.
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