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“JUST A LUCKY SHOT”: THE MAKING OF AN ICONIC PHOTOGRAPH

Forum Auctions’ 11 July sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper takes place almost exactly 50 years since the launch of the first manned mission to the Moon, Apollo 11, in July 1969.  The anniversary is marked by the inclusion of four exceptional vintage photographic items, including one of the most reproduced images of the 20th century.

The first is a rare set of twelve images including some of the very first from the lunar surface. The majority were taken by Neil Armstrong who was tasked by NASA with photographing most of the lunar views, but one outstanding image was shot by Buzz Aldrin when he tilted his chest-mounted camera downwards to photograph the impression of his moonboot in the lunar soil. The uncommon square format of this group reflects those of the original 70mm Hasselblad camera negatives.  (lot 518 est. £4,000-6,000)The second captures Aldrin as he climbs down the ladder from the lunar module just before stepping onto the Moon. This is a rare large-format photograph, 14 x 11 in. (lot 515 est. £2,000-3,000).

The third is an even larger, 16 x 20 in., image of Aldrin saluting the American flag. (lot 517 est. £3,000-5,000)

The fourth is the most sought-after of all vintage lunar photographs and among the most reproduced images of the 20th century.

Why has it achieved such mythic status? Buzz Aldrin is portrayed full length, standing in a shallow crater with the lunar horizon sloping away behind him, his arm bent as he checks the to-do list on his forearm. The horizon line is mirrored in his visor, gold-coated to reflect solar radiation. Also reflected are the lunar module, Aldrin’s long shadow thrown by the sun and the photographer, Neil Armstrong. All the essential elements of the first moonlanding are here and the photograph appears perfectly composed. In reality, Armstrong’s Hasselblad camera had no viewfinder and the image was captured on the point and shoot principle. “It wasn’t staged, it was just a lucky shot” said Aldrin. “As I walked away from the Eagle lunar module, Neil said “Hold it Buzz”, so I stopped and turned around, and then he took what has become known as the ‘Visor’ photo.” The photograph offered for sale is a large-format, 14 x 11 in. vintage print. Its iconic significance was not lost on Andy Warhol who reworked the image in one of his last prints, Moonwalk, 1987.  (lot 516 est. £5,000-7,000)

For images of all the lots mentioned, please use this link: https://forumauctions.box.com/s/wp26s29oia1wk0uwmqx38qztfml37vvc

 

 

Rare Books London.

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Early June has long been an important spot on the calendars of bibliophiles around the world. The original source of interest came from the fact that it always marked a unique concentration of opportunities to buy and sell books during a busy schedule of London book fairs and auctions. Those events alone were enough to lead a diverse flock of booksellers, collectors and other bibliophiles to converge annually on London, like swallows to Capistrano.

Recent years, however, have seen a greatly expanded scope and duration for what has now become known as Rare Books London. An impressive cohort of libraries and other bibliophilic groups have now joined their bookselling friends to organise an 18 day “fesitval of old and rare books” running from May 24 to June 10. In addition to the well-known book fairs and auctions, their schedule of events now includes 18 talks, 10 tours, and a special performance based on the writings of Samuel Johnson. More events will likely be added as the dates approach.

Information about everything that will be happening can be found on the RARE BOOKS LONDON website. Nearly all the events are free, but for many of them an advance ticket is required and spaces may be limited. It will be smart to reserve your places soon. Links for booking all the activities will be found on the website.

Rare Books London is a great idea and we are happy to be able to support it. If you think so too then you can also help support it and contribute to its success by posting, tweeting, pinning or just plain writing about it anywhere you can. After that I hope I will see you there.