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John Glenn (American, 1921-2016)

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American & European Works of Art - 3048M
Date / Time :
November 02, 2017 10:00AM


John Glenn (American, 1921-2016)
The first photograph from space taken by man: the Sun illuminating the Earth, Mercury-Atlas 6, February 20, 1962. NASA caption on the verso. Vintage chromogenic print on fiber-based Kodak paper with 'EKC' watermark, image size 7 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (18.3 x 24.0 cm), unmatted.
Condition: Subtle chemical inconsistencies or similar at center, minor handling crimp u.c.

N.B. 'The suborbital missions of Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom prepared the way for the first orbital flight. John Glenn became the first American to circle the Earth making three orbits in his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. He also became the first human being to photograph Earth from space using a hand-held camera. NASA officials initially vetoed Glenn's idea of taking a camera aboard his spacecraft for fear it would distract him from the mission's primary goals. After an appeal to NASA Director Robert Gilruth, Glenn ultimately received permission to use a camera during his space flight. However, the lack of a space photography department in NASA's infant manned space program required Glenn to obtain his own camera. He needed to locate a model he could operate in zero gravity while wearing the bulky gloves of his spacesuit. Glenn discovered such a camera, a 35mm Minolta Hi-Matic, in a drug store in Cocoa Beach, just outside of Cape Canaveral, Florida. One of the first models that automatically advanced the film roll between shots, NASA technicians rigged the camera with a trigger mechanism Glenn could operate while in space. The malfunction of his spacecraft's automatic control system during the second orbit limited Glenn's opportunities to make use of his camera. Nevertheless, he did manage to document his time in space with this never before seen image of Earth as he passed over the east coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean on his first orbit' ( The NASA negative number is MA-6-40452-049.
Estimate $800-1,200

Scattered minor handling crimps, subtle fingerprint marks at left edge.

This print appears to be extremely rare. It was printed at Cape Canaveral just after the mission by the photographic laboratory operated by RCA and Technicolor for NASA. The Kodak "EKC" watermark which existed until 1961-1962 confirms the early date of the print as Glenn's mission was in February 1962. The Manned Spacecraft Center and its photographic technology division was not in operation until later that year.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Kodak, Robert Gilruth, Gus Grissom, Cape Canaveral, Alan Shepard, Aviation, Civil awards and decorations of the United States, John Glenn, Mercury Seven, Mercury-Atlas 6, NASA, Project Mercury, Robert R. Gilruth, Spaceflight