More than 1500 photographs relating to NASA missions from 1961-72 go under the hammer at Swann Auction Galleries this week with an estimate of $9000-12,000.

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The images measure 7½ x 9½ in (19 x 24cm), most with mimeographed captions dating the photos and giving detailed descriptions of what they depict. They are offered together at Swann’s April 19 auction The Knowing Eye: Photographs & Photobooks, with an estimate of $9000-12,000.

Carefully collected and organised into nine thematic folders by an employee of a national picture agency, the photographs chronicle 1961-72, the first 11 years of manned space missions, specifically the Mercury, Geminis and Apollo missions. Highlights in the archive include depictions of lift-off, astronauts floating in space, Earthrise, capsules ‘rendezvousing’, the first spacewalk, the dark side of the moon and the lunar rover.

“During this pre-digital period, more photographs were made available to news outlets than were required,” says Daile Kaplan, a Swann Galleries’ specialist. “Once the demand for images of an event diminished, excess photographic prints were typically destroyed. This collection contains press prints that were saved from destruction.”