Monday, July 21, 2008

9 Pieces of Apollo 11 CM Flown Hardware by Mike Riley at NAA

This is a vintage resin that was made in 1969 by Mike Riley and it contains 9 parts from the Apollo 11 command module. Mike Riley made hundreds resin pieces that have flown pieces embedded in them, during his time at North American Aviation during the Apollo program.

I purchased a large collection of Apollo artifacts from the family of a woman who was a secretary at North American Aviation from 1961-76. She worked closely with all of NAA management, the astronauts and VIP's coming into Downey.

The family sold me artifacts over a 3-4 month period and the final bunch of things I bought, were negatives, photos, her ID cards, paperwork and misc notes. One of the notes was typewritten and it says,
" Dear Yvonne, enclosed is a resin display containing 9 pieces from the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, that carried Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin to mans first steps on the moon. July 1969. Enjoy this piece as a token for all of your hard work that made this mission a success. Very Sincerely, Mike Riley".

I went through the collection of resin & lucite pieces, but there was nothing that came close to a resin that had 9 parts embedded in it. I called the family, but they said they didn't know anything about it, so I figured they gave it away or kept it. I was checking out this family's Ebay auctions and about 1 month later, this resin came up for sale.

They posted it as containing 9 flown pieces from the Apollo 11 command module, but they had no proof of it's history, because I had the proof with this letter from Mike Riley. They listed it for $9.95 and I ended up buying it for $10.50 because nobody believed that this was was, what it really was. I was sweating like a 500 pound guy in Las Vegas, in August, sitting in a hot car at high noon, eating the spiciest food you can find. You should have heard me scream like a mental patient when I won it.

I asked the family why they didn't contact me about selling it, they said they were afraid to let me know because they didn't know what it was worth. Suffice it to say that I would have paid a great deal more for this piece and now I'm debating about breaking up the resin and making new displays for the 9 pieces.

It is the best buy I've ever made since starting to seriously collect space artifacts in 2003.

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