The Certified Collectibles Group (CCG) launched its seventh member company, Collectibles Authentication Guaranty (CAG), which is described by its executives as “an expert and impartial certification service that works directly with collectors, estates, artists and museums to preserve the authenticity and provenance of artifacts, memorabilia and estate items at the source.”
The first collection certified by CAG is the Armstrong Family Collection, which contains several thousand items from astronaut Neil Armstrong and his immediate family members.
“It is important to us that our father’s legacy be honoured, preserved and protected,” said Mark Armstrong, one of Neil Armstrong’s two sons. “CAG certification gave us a platform to do just that. Most importantly, a significant percentage of the proceeds of these sales will benefit worthy causes around the world that both mom and dad would have been pleased to support.”
Armstrong achieved unprecedented worldwide fame when he became the first person to walk on the moon in July 1969. His moonwalk represented the absolute pinnacle of human achievement, a feat he captured perfectly in his now-immortal words from the moon’s surface: “That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong immediately became a U.S. hero and a global inspiration. He received numerous honours, medals, letters, magazine features, gifts and other accolades. Most of these items and other memorabilia were saved, but after Armstrong’s death in 2012, his family decided the collection needed to be shared with the public.
The family struggled with the same challenge faced by other estates: how do you preserve the provenance and legacy of estate items even after they pass through many different hands?
The establishment of CAG provided the solution to this challenge.
The company’s experts would thoroughly evaluate the collection and for each item assign a unique certification number, take high-resolution photographs, describe it in detail and (if applicable) assign a grade. The items would then be encapsulated in one of CAG’s tamper-evident holders designed for long-term preservation and display.
“It is an incredible honour to have been selected to certify the Armstrong Family Collection,” said Mark Salzberg, CCG chair. “The moon landing was of monumental importance for all Americans of a certain age, myself included, and it continues to inspire nearly 50 years later.”
With the authenticity and provenance now guaranteed by CAG, virtually all of the Armstrong Family Collection was consigned to Heritage Auctions, the largest U.S.-based auction house. Heritage will offer the Armstrong Family Collection in several sales, the first of which will be held this November.
“We needed to ensure that the provenance of this great collection would be preserved in perpetuity, so we leveraged the expertise of our CCG affiliates to form CAG. The Armstrong Family Collection is the perfect example of a collection that can benefit from CAG certification.”
The collection features many important keepsakes of the U.S. space program and its most famous and meaningful moment. Its sale is expected to draw worldwide interest ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission next year.
ARMSTRONG FAMILY COLLECTION
Several highlights of the Armstrong Family Collection certified by CAG are listed below.
- A series of Apollo 11 Robbins medals, including an extremely rare gold example, flown aboard Apollo 11. These medals were commissioned by the astronauts themselves and flown on all Apollo missions starting with Apollo 7 with the dates being engraved after the mission was completed. The Apollo 11 Robbins Medals are graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), an affiliate of CAG, and certified by CAG.
- Material from the Wright Flyer, the plane the Wright Brothers flew to achieve the first successful manned flight in 1903. Under a special arrangement with the Air Force Museum, Armstrong carried material from the historic airplane in his personal preference kit on Apollo 11 and was allowed to retain a portion of it, including pieces of the wing and propeller. The authenticity and provenance of these pieces is now certified by CAG.
- A Purdue University Centennial, 1869-1969, silk flag flown on Apollo 11. Purdue was Armstrong’s beloved alma mater, and he carried its flag with him to the moon. The flag is described and encapsulated by CAG.
- Important correspondence, including a congratulatory telegram from then U.S. President Richard Nixon. Another particularly interesting letter in the Armstrong Family Collection is from a NASA public affairs official to the Apollo program manager stating he felt it should be left up to the astronauts to decide what to say when they walk on the surface of the moon. Other letters in the collection include ones from President Ronald Reagan, President Bill Clinton, Vice President Spiro Agnew and then-Vice President (and future President) George H.W. Bush. All of the letters are certified by CAG.
- A gold and diamond pin that Armstrong gave to his wife after it was flown on Gemini VIII, a mission that conducted the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit in March 1966. This was Armstrong’s first spaceflight. A critical in-space failure almost cost Armstrong and his fellow crewmember their lives, but Armstrong expertly regained control of the spacecraft and guided it safely back to earth. The provenance of the pin is certified by CAG.
- Armstrong’s Boy Scout cap. A young Neil Armstrong joined Boy Scout Troop 25 in Sandusky, Ohio, and became an Eagle Scout—the organization’s highest rank—at the age of 17. Armstrong’s cap is now accompanied by a CAG photo certificate featuring a description of the cap and its noteworthy provenance along with high-resolution images.