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As the amateur cosmonaut was making final preparations (and the last downpayments on an estimated $20m bill) for his controversial blast-off from Russia, his compatriots were shelling out five- and six-figure dollar sums for relics of the Nasa space programs of the 1970s in a New York auction house.

The lunar surface excursion map, from the Apollo 16 mission was one of the curious artefacts offered at Christie’s East (17.5/10 per cent buyer’s premium) on May 9. The map is simply an 8 by 10in (20 x 25cm) print from a photograph of the moon’s surface on a scale of 1:12,500, and the black directional lines and coordinates are the plotted movements of the ‘dune buggy’ that was navigated by the astronaut who consigned the map to auction, Charles M. Duke.

The assembled ‘lunatics’ were greatly impressed by this first hand provenance, as they were by the dark smudges to the edge of the map which suggested the contact of lunar dust. Even so, the principal excitement was knowing that the map had been used to guide a journey into unexplored territory, and in this sense it was arguably as significant a piece of cartography as Lars Christensen’s maps of the Antarctica in the 1930s.

Part of a set of 10 maps issued in a binder atlas for Apollo 16 (and apparently not the only one to have survived from that mission), this piece of lunar history was contested by American collectors to a premium inclusive $94,000 (£66,000).