Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio, HK-Hong Kong

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07-12-2015 – 08-12-2015

Hong Kong Auction

Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio offer the Fook Wing Tong Chinese Space Collection

Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio offer space collectibles from the ‘Shenzhou 1’ in their December 8-9, 2015, Hong Kong auction. These items were stored in the cabin of and traveled into space aboard ‘Shenzhou 1’, China’s first space ship in 1999. Returning to the Earth from space, each piece was examined and certified by The People’s Republic of China Beijing Notary Office. Each piece is government-certified, individually serial numbered, contains a unique code and has a Notary certificate examined and issued by “Beijing Notary Public Office of the People’s Republic of China.” 

The History of Space Collectibles
As a genre, collecting space material stems from a long fascination with space and history – just look at places like Stonehenge, where mankind not only studied stars and time, but also acted upon it. Advanced thought on space began with the Renaissance when Galileo and Isaac Newton forged new frontiers. Americans became fascinated with the study of space and assembled the world’s most advanced technical think tank – the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) – and government agency – National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA).

Lot 60275: CHINA. 20 & 100 Cents Stamp Sheets, 1999. MINT STATE. Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000.

The collecting of space-related items perhaps started with the first auction of space material in 1991, which featured items from Buzz Aldrin’s collection. However, opportunities to acquire such collectibles are nearly as rare as the items themselves. There are many reasons for the lack of actual space-attained collectibles on the market. Primarily, the USA has been the leader in space exploration, followed by Russia and China – only three countries are pursuing space exploration. At the top of the list for space collectibles are moon rocks or rocks from any planet. However, these are closely controlled and are strictly illegal to own. NASA, JPL and other agencies have clamped down on what is allowed onboard a space mission and what astronauts are allowed to keep. In the early days, each astronaut was allowed a personal preference kit (PPK) that weighed less than two pounds. Each moon astronaut had two, one for taking to the surface of the moon, the other to stay in the vehicle. This was the only authorized way to get stuff into space.

Astronauts had to identify their personal items and anything that comes up for sale today requires a note from the astronaut to assure authenticity. Some of the agencies never allowed anything out at all, including JPL. Eventually Federal regulation followed that allowed astronauts to maintain ownership of some items. 

Lot 60276: SPACE MEMORABILIA. Set of 20 & 100 Cents Stamps, 1999. MINT STATE. Estimate: $5,000 – $10,000.

Space collectibles became popular, and as moon rocks were not and never would be available, collectors gravitated toward other items, including space parts, commemorative articles and the like that appeared on the market over the next few decades. Yet despite the interest in space, no nation had undertaken to get the public invested the space programs – until the Chinese in 1999. The United States had issued stamps through the US Postal Service commemorating the various space flights and these were an immediate success. But no government had convinced the public to put their pocket books on the line in the name of space science until the Chinese effort.

Stephen Chow and the Space Collectible Series
Enclosed within the Shenzhou 1 during China’s first space mission, was an approximately half foot box of items, approved by the Chinese Space Agency and designed for future marketing.  Stephen Chow was awarded the marketing and distribution rights of this unique set of stamps and coins that travelled to space orbit on the Shenzhou 1. Stephen Chow was and is the natural choice to promote the space program to the Chinese public. He has been an advocate and supporter of the Chinese space program for many years, driven by his belief that aerospace technology can improve Chinese society through high-tech innovation, education and culture.

Lot 60276: SPACE MEMORABILIA. Set of 20 & 100 Cents Stamps, 1999. MINT STATE. Estimate: $5,000 – $10,000.

Stephen Chow (Chow Shu Tong) is the second son of Chow Chi Yuen, the founder of the Chow Tai Fook conglomerate. In the first years of the China Space Foundation Chow was instrumental in the press campaign for the support of the program and in developing educational opportunities for youth in the space program. In 2009, the three Chow brothers established Fook Wing Tong to promote their father’s legacy and the field of space collectibles. Stephen was appointed as a director of the China Space Foundation in 2011, and in 2012 the three brothers were invited to the launch of ‘Shenzhou 9’, the first multiple-manned China space flight headed for the space station. In 2013, Stephen Chow received certificates officially recognizing him as a Sponsor and Supporter of the China Space Foundation.

The FWT Space Collectibles from China’s First Spacecraft
The space collectibles that were sent up with China’s very first spaceship Shenzhou 1 in 1999 formed the foundation of the FWT Space Collectible series. 

Lot 60275: CHINA. 20 & 100 Cents Stamp Sheets, 1999. MINT STATE. Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000.

The items to be offered in the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio December Hong Kong auction include a set of 20 and 100 Fen stamps and 20 and 100 Fen stamp sheets, all of which are Mint State. 

Lot 60274: SPACE MEMORABILIA. Coin From 1st Chinese Space Flight, 1999 (1986). BRILLIANT UNCIRCULATED. Estimate: $5,000 – $10,000.

Also to be offered is a brilliant Uncirculated 1986 China 1 Fen coin and a nut that was used to assemble the instrument case on the Shenzhou 1. The nut is now encased in an attractive leaded crystal globe trophy with engravings by authorities attesting to its authenticity. All pieces traveled into space aboard China’s first spaceship and were removed from the capsule upon its return from space under the supervision of the Beijing Notary Public Office of The People’s Republic of China. All items are accompanied by notarized certificates of authenticity.

The Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio Hong Kong auction will be held December 8-9, 2015, at the Mira Hong Kong. For more information or to view the entire auction online, visit the firm’s website.