Home Guide Links Contact Valuation
< Previous Guide

The Flown Apollo 15 Sieger Covers

Assembled by Howard C. Weinberger

Next Guide >
Compiled from reports and data supplied by Ken Havekotte, Robert McLeod, Richard Jurek, Howard C. Weinberger and Collectspace.com

Apollo 15 was the fourth manned mission to land on the Moon. It was the first to use the Lunar Rover, which allowed the astronauts the ability to journey over extended distances from their lunar module.

The crew consisted of commander David R. Scott, lunar module pilot James B. Irwin, and command module pilot Alfred M. Worden.

One of the 300 Sieger Crew-Owned Covers




The Story

Realizing there may be a market for space flown philatelic items, Herman E. Sieger of Lorch, Germany, a major European stamp dealer, set out in 1970 to recruit an Apollo crew to carry a small number of postmarked envelopes - called "covers" by collectors - to the moon.

In pursuit of his idea, Sieger approached H. Walter Eiermann, a naturalized American citizen, who had been privately employed for many years in the Cape Kennedy area and was well acquainted with many in the astronaut corps. Sieger became acquainted with H. Walter Eiermann while on a visit to Cape Kennedy in 1970.

Eiermann, working on Sieger's behalf, was able to interest the crew of Apollo 15.

In the spring of 1971, during the Apollo 15 crew-training period at Cape Kennedy, Eiermann proposed to Scott, and later to Worden and Irwin, that the astronauts carry 100 special covers to the lunar surface for him. It is the contention of the astronauts that there was to be no commercialization or advertising of these covers and that nothing would be done with them until after completion of the Apollo program. In return, Eiermann offered a monetary consideration, approximately $7,000 apiece, in the form of savings accounts in a German bank. The astronauts agreed and also decided to carry 300 similar covers for themselves, 100 for each, but two were destroyed before the flight, making a total of 398 that were flown.

Due to weight constraints, NASA required that all the items carried aboard the Apollo spacecraft be manifested. Although the Apollo 15 crew was later to claim an innocent oversight, the covers, which were carried in Scott's spacesuit pocket, were not recorded pre-flight.

It is important to note that the Personal Preference Kits (PPKs) for the Apollo 15 crewmembers were packed and stored aboard the spacecraft days before their launch to the moon, so these covers could not have been packed if they were to have a launch day post office cancellation. The 400 covers were hand delivered to the post office (HQS Bldg.) at Kennedy Space Center just after midnight the morning of the launch. The mission launched at 1:34 pm that afternoon. There was a postal employee working late there and had the covers machine cancelled, as requested from the astronaut support office, even though the liftoff of Apollo 15 was planned for 9+ hours away. Once the special cachet envelopes were processed in less than 15 minutes or so, the batch of covers were brought to a nearby facility, the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (also known as the Operations and Checkout Facility), where the batch of covers were vacuum packed so that the bundle was not thicker than 5 cm. Next, they were sealed in fireproof Teflon-coated fiberglass, and delivered to Launch Complex 39A's White Room after Scott and his crewmates had arrived at the pad for their final launch preparations and spacecraft entry. While there, Scott received the special package and put the small bundle into one of his leg-pockets of the spacesuit he had on.

After splashdown, aboard the USS Okinawa, the Apollo 15 recovery ship, the astronauts purchased twin eight-cent stamps and affixed them to these covers. The covers were then canceled and date-stamped August 7, 1971, their landing date, in the shipboard post office. The astronauts later autographed these covers while flying from Hawaii to Houston on Aug. 31, 1971.

100 of these covers carried the handwritten notation, "Landed at Hadley moon July 30, 1971. Dave Scott, Jim Irwin", and the additional legend - "This is to certify that this cover was onboard the Falcon at the Hadley Apennine, Moon, July 30-August 2, 1971" typed on their backs and signed by a notary public. It was these covers that later came on to the commercial philately market in Europe.

On September 2, 1971, Scott mailed the 100 specially certified covers to Eiermann, who at that time was in Stuttgart, Germany. Eiermann delivered these covers to Sieger. Sieger paid Eiermann an unspecified sum for the covers and then advertised them for sale. By November 1971, ninety-nine of them had been sold at an average price of $1,500 each.

When the news of the sale reached the United States, Scott telephoned Eiermann to request that sales be stopped and the covers returned but he was unsuccessful. In February 1972, in an effort to save their careers and reputations, the astronauts decided not to accept the money and Scott took steps to assure that the funds were returned to Eiermann. Eiermann suggested, as an alternative to the savings accounts, that each astronaut receive a commemorative stamp album for their families. This suggestion, initially accepted by the astronauts, was rejected in April 1972 after further consideration and the astronauts returned the $7000 they had each received. However a Congressional investigation wanted to make an example of the Astronauts and so NASA had no choice but to suspend them from active flight status. NASA also confiscated the 298 covers. It is unfortunate because there might never have been a problem if Sieger had honored the agreement not to offer the covers for sale until the Apollo program was completed.

To prevent similar incidents from occurring again, NASA drafted rules as to what astronauts would be allowed to take with them into space. Future crewmembers would be bound not to publicize the contents of their "Personal Preference Kit" (PPKs) until they retired from the corps. The astronauts were also required to sign an agreement restricting transfer of their flown memorabilia to gifts and donations - sale of memorabilia was strictly prohibited.

In 1983, eleven years later, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to fly 260,000 covers aboard the space shuttle. Al Worden, seeing the similarities between his confiscated covers and those set to fly on STS-8, sued the government for the return of his crew's 298 covers. In an out-of-court settlement, the covers were returned to the crew. Upon their receipt, the entire crew drafted, signed and had notarized a letter of provenance for each cover, which today has become an integral part of their lore.




Identification

The 398 unauthorized covers (initially 400 but two destroyed) are lightweight onion skin envelopes carrying as a cachet, a replica of the official Apollo 15 patch overprinted with an Air Force wing and propeller emblem. They were part of a large order of covers paid for by a privately employed public relations man with a wide circle of friends among the NASA astronauts.

The 398 covers were properly packaged for flight and carried on board Apollo 15 by Scott in a pocket of his space suit; each having been canceled at the Kennedy Space Center Post Office early on July 26, 1971, the morning of the flight.

There are differences in appearance between Sieger's 100 covers and the 298 Sieger/Crew Owned covers, including different combinations of stamps that were affixed.


The 100 Sieger covers have a handwritten inscription on their front upper left corner stating:

LANDED AT HADLEY MOON
JULY 30 1971
(signed Dave Scott & Jim Irwin)

On the reverse is a typed and notarized inscription that reads:

This is to certify that this cover was onboard the Falcon at the Hadley-Apennine, Moon, July 30-August 2, 1971

Notary stamped and signed Mrs. C. B. Carsey. Her notary raised seal is also applied to the cover.

Also on the reverse, in the lower left reverse corner, Sieger's name "H.W. Sieger" is stamped then signed by him below a handwritten serial number.


In comparison, the 298 Sieger/Crew Owned covers have the following inscription printed on their front upper left corner:

THIS ENVELOPE WAS
CARRIED TO THE MOON
ABOARD THE APOLLO 15
#____ OF 300 TO THE
LUNAR SURFACE IN
L. M. "FALCON"

Although images of all 298 Sieger/Crew Owned have not been reviewed, it seems that the handwritten correction in the upper left corner, changing 300 to 400, stopped somewhere between 69 and 100. We will have to monitor this as other covers come to market.

All the covers are also autographed by the crew on the front lower left corner.

Some of the Sieger/Crew Owned covers have a small (unflown) card inserted inside the cover, some signed by a crewmember, that reads:

This cover is #____ of 300 postmarked just prior to the launch of Apollo 15 on July 26, 1971 at Kennedy Space Center; stowed aboard the spacecraft in a sealed fireproof packet; carried to the lunar surface in LM "FALCON"; returned to earth in CM "ENDEAVOUR"; and postmarked immediately after splashdown on August 7, 1971 by the U. S. Navy Postal Station aboard the recovery ship USS OKINAWA.

Finally, in the upper right corner of the reverse of the Sieger/Crew Owned covers, not the Sieger 100 covers, is the small handwritten initials of S. Neil Hosenball (SNH), NASA's general counsel, and a serial number, which NASA assigned at the time of their confiscation. The Sieger/Crew Owned covers are numbered 1-298 and the 60 impounded Phases of the Moon covers taken from Worden are numbered 299-358.


Shown above are three different stamp combinations for the flown Apollo 15 Sieger / Crew-Owned covers




Collector Commentary and Observations

In the final analysis of what makes a rarity desirable and in high demand and valuable, it is some combination of the story, the circumstances and the "sizzle" It is not always about numbers or scarcity. In creating the hierarchy of flown covers, the 214 Flown Apollo 11 Covers have always been the most sought after because of the fact that they accompanied the first men to land on the Moon. And, due no less in part to man's fascination with scandal and controversy, these Flown Apollo 15 Sieger Covers have to come in second as the story line reads like a movie script. One also has to consider that the effort put forth by the crew to make these covers what they were was unprecedented, with the post office cancellations, the affixing of the stamps, the certifications; both on the covers and the later notarized letters. Considering that most astronauts today will comment that the only thing on their minds during training was to get home alive and that they paid very little attention to the unimportant stuff, like how many of this or that was on board the spacecraft, it seems notable how much effort was expended.

What a story!




Other covers flown on Apollo 15

For the record, in addition to the 398 Apollo 15 Sieger and Sieger/Crew Owned Flown covers, the following covers, which were properly authorized and manifested, were carried aboard the command module and flew in lunar orbit:

  • The Orville Wright signed cover carried by Worden

    1 Wright Brothers commemorative cover dated 1928 and autographed by Orville Wright, which was carried by Worden for a friend. The cover was sold at auction in 2007 (see annex E).
  • 1 cover labeled "flown to the Moon" bearing a First Man on the Moon stamp and a Bliss Centennial three-cent stamp, which was carried by Irwin for a personal friend of Apollo 12 astronaut Richard Gordon.
  • 2 U.S. Postal Service covers, one of which was publicly canceled on the Moon by Scott at the request of the U.S. Postal Service; the second cover, a backup, was not taken to the lunar surface. Both covers have been returned to the Postal Service (in Washington, D. C.)
  • One of the Shamrock covers carried by Irwin

    8 covers (now referred to as the Shamrock Covers) imprinted with a green shamrock, a small Apollo 15 emblem and a rendering of the Lunar Rover with two astronauts, bearing the notation, "Carried to the moon - Jim Irwin," which were carried by Irwin. Each is numbered (1 through 8) within a circle in the lower left front corner . Apollo 15 was the first mission to utilize the Lunar Rover. (see annex D).
  • 87 Apollo 12 covers (initially thought to be 88) that did not fly on that mission and which were carried on Apollo 15 by Irwin for Barbara Gordon, wife of Apollo 12 astronaut Richard Gordon. These are detailed on the main Apollo Flown Covers page.
  • 144 Apollo 15 covers that were created by German stamp dealer F. Herrick were carried by CMP Al Worden in his command module PPK. All of the 144 covers were affixed with a special printed cachet sticker showing 15 phases of the moon. Naturally, the covers have gone on to be known as the Phases of the Moon covers. It has been erroneously reported in earlier writings that only 100 of the 144 were affixed with the Phases of the Moon sticker, but Al Worden is emphatic that all of them were Phases of the Moon covers.

    On the USS Okinawa, the Apollo 15 recovery ship, the astronauts affixed two eight-cent Decade of Achievement stamps and one U.S. Mail eight-cent stamp, which were purchased on board by Worden, on each of the covers and then had the covers canceled with the recovery date by the shipboard post office. The astronauts later autographed these covers while flying back from Hawaii to Houston. There are no Phases of the Moon covers with a KSC launch date cancellation and any such covers are suspicious and should not be considered genuine. The only post office cancellation is the August 7, 1971 USS Okinawa cancellation.

    One of the flown "Phases of the Moon" covers

    Worden sent all 144 covers to Herrick for finalizing and safekeeping after his return.

    Herrick and his son stamped the covers, after the mission, with the launch and recovery dates. The launch and recovery stamps are not official post office cancellations but rubber stamps created by Herrick. There were at least two variations of the launch stamp, one oval and one circular, and just one variation of the recovery stamp, which was circular. Herrick was not consistent with the application of these stamps. Some covers have the launch stamp on the front and the recovery stamp on the reverse while others have both stamps on the reverse. Other combinations are possible. Some stamps are in red ink while others are in black.

    When word came of the NASA investigation into the carrying of the covers, Worden instructed Herrick to return them all to him. According to Herrick he personally sold three of his covers, had sent several to Europe for eventual sale, and had sold ten more through a dealer on commission. It was Herrick who also claimed that 16 of the covers were torn or damaged and were destroyed, but only he could confirm that as Worden had not been witness to that. In the end, Herrick only returned 60 of the 144 covers to Worden, which were then impounded by NASA. Years later, after their release back to Worden, he sold most of them to pay off the remaining debts he amassed during his 1982 U.S. Congressional run.

    Only the 60 covers that were returned to Worden, of the 144 originals, were impounded by NASA. NASA was unable to get hold of the 84 that Herrick might have had or sold, which means that only Worden's 60 impounded covers have the desirable serial number and initials of S. Neil Hosenball (SNH), NASA's general counsel, under the flap on the reverse. The numbering sequence for the Phases of the Moon covers ran from 299 - 358, leaving off from numbers 1 - 298 assigned to the Sieger Crew Owned covers. Furthermore, only these 60 covers also have the accompanying notarized letter that is signed by the entire crew which explains the story of the covers. The letter is similar to the notarized Sieger/Crew Owned cover letter. It differs in that it states that these were flown in lunar orbit and not to the surface as the Sieger/Crew Owned covers did. The letter incorrectly states that the covers were post office canceled on the day of launch, which they were not. There are a few covers which exist that also are accompanied by a separate Al Worden letter that corrects this fact. Obviously, the most desirable would be one of the 60 Worden covers with both letters .

    To date, no information has been developed indicating that there were agreements or arrangements between Herrick and Worden whereby Worden was to have received anything of value from any sale of the covers by Herrick.


Annex A: Flown Apollo 15 Sieger covers sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

NumberStampSold viaLot no.Sale DatePriceReference / Notes
16First ManSuperior544May 3 1997$5,980One of Sieger's 100 covers
51First ManVaccari1123May 7 2011UNSOLDOne of Sieger's 100 covers
99First ManAstro-Auctionn/aApr 2 2006$8,900One of Sieger's 100 covers 
RRAuction515Nov 29 2012$9,799Auction listing 


Annex B: Flown Apollo 15 Sieger Crew-Owned covers sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

The first column below gives the serial number assigned by the crew as noted on the front of the cover.
The second column gives the NASA serial number noted on the back of the cover, where known.

NumberNASA S/NStampSold viaLot no.Sale DatePriceReference / Notes
13AntarcticSwannunknownMar 31 2007$10,350
17084First ManPrivate salen/aunknownunknownHand corrected to "400"
2279AntarcticBonhams277Apr 8 2014$7,500Hand corrected to "400" 
25076First ManPrivate salen/aunknownunknownHand corrected to "400"
26075First ManPrivate salen/aunknownunknownHand corrected to "400"
55046Apollo 8Private salen/aunknownunknownHand corrected to "400"
57044Apollo 8Private salen/aunknownunknownHand corrected to "400"
58043Apollo 8Private salen/aunknownunknownHand corrected to "400"
61Apollo 8Regency/Superior238Jan 16 2010$6,435Hand corrected to "400"
63Apollo 8Robert A. Siegel1391May 25 1986unknownHand corrected to "400"
66Apollo 8unknownn/aunknownunknownHand corrected to "400"
69Apollo 8Moonpansn/aOn Sale Now$9,995Hand corrected to "400" ; Auction listing 
93AntarcticAurora401Oct 26 2002unknown
94007Antarcticunknownn/aunknownunknownHand corrected to "400"
97AntarcticSuperiorunknownNov 1991$6,325
100298AntarcticRegency/Superior207Oct 15 2011$7,605Auction listing 
101AntarcticChristies176Sep 18 1999$9,200Auction listing 
108290Apollo 8RRAuction454Aug 13 2014$5,428Auction listing 
109Apollo 8SwannunknownApr 17 2008$11,500
114284Apollo 8Robert A. Siegel2349May 18 2002$9,350Auction listing 
Robert A. Siegel535Jun 12 2004$6,325Auction listing 
115283Apollo 8Robert A. Siegel2415Dec 19 2002$5,225Auction listing 
Robert A. Siegel401Jun 16 2007$6,900Auction listing 
116282Apollo 8Robert A. Siegel595May 31 2003$3,850Auction listing 
117281Apollo 8Robert A. Siegel380Jun 3 2005$5,775Auction listing 
118280Apollo 8Robert A. Siegel536Jun 12 2004$5,500Auction listing 
139AntarcticeBay291192562491Jul 23 2014$6,766Auction listing 
151First Manunknownn/aunknownunknown
152247First ManLunar Legacies313Nov 19 2011TBDAuction listing 
153First ManeBayn/aunknown$8,800With insert.
Heritage40033Apr 18 2013$8,963Auction listing 
170229First ManVaccari150Dec 14 2013$10,9998,000 Euros ;
Auction listing 
174First ManSuperior538May 18 1996$5,520
Superior503Oct 26 1996$5,750
176223Apollo 8RRAuction585Sep 15 2011
RRAuction588May 23 2013$7,540Auction listing 
185Apollo 8Regency/SuperiorunknownApr 8 2005UNSOLD
200AntarcticAurora827Oct 21 2006$4,800
214Apollo 8Novaspace391Jan 26 2008$18,000
215Apollo 8RRAuction649Nov 21 2013$12,173Auction listing 
217Apollo 8Bonhams217May 5 2011?Auction listing 
219AntarcticSuperior1296Oct 31 1998$6,900
223175AntarcticPeachstaten/aunknownunknownAuction listing 
RRAuctionNov 11 2009unknownAuction listing 
224AntarcticSuperior807Oct 28 2000$14,950
231AntarcticSuperiorunknownMay 5 2001$6,900
237AntarcticRegency870Apr 21 2006$7,475Auction listing 
241Apollo 8Vaccari1131Apr 24 2010$13,31310,000 Euros
251147First ManVaccari1043Apr 14 2012$19,71315,000 Euros
259139Apollo 8Swann194Mar 18 2006$6,720Auction listing 
266First ManSuperior1138Nov 15 1993$6,160
267First ManSuperior557Oct 25 1997$5,850
273AntarcticVaccari715Mar 12 2005$4,3733,300 Euros
293105Apollo 8Heritage40169May 12 2012$5,079Auction listing 
297102First ManBonhams297Apr 26 2012$7,500Auction listing 


Annex C: Flown Apollo 15 "Phases of the Moon" covers sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

The first column gives the NASA serial number noted on the back of the cover, where known.
The second column notes the style of hand stamps visible on the front of each cover.

NASA S/NHand StampsAddress LabelSold viaSale DateLot no.PriceReference / Notes
306Launch (red);
Recovery (red) on reverse
NoneVaccariApr 14 20121042$5,7824,400 Euros
318Launch (red)NoneSwannMar 18 2006195$4,320Auction listing 
329Recovery (red)
Launch (black oval)
NoneVaccariDec 14 2013149$4,1253,000 Euros ;
Auction listing 
347Launch ?NoneAuroraOct 26 2002404> 7500
348NoneNoneAuroraMay 31 2003540$4,500Auction listing 
349NoneNoneRegency/SuperiorApr 16 2010280$1,463Auction listing 
351Launch (black round);
Recovery (red)
NoneRobert A. SiegelMay 18 20022350$1,485Auction listing 
353Launch (black oval)HERRICKRobert A. SiegelDec 19 20022416$3,300Auction listing 
?Launch (black oval)HERRICKHeritageApr 18 201340036$1,793Auction listing 
?Recovery (red)HERRICKeBayDec 9 2011n/a$1,800Auction listing 
?Launch (black oval)HERRICKVaccariApr 24 20101130$11,3168,500 Euros
?Launch (red)NoneRegency-SuperiorJan 16 2010239$2,340Auction listing 
?Launch (black oval);
Recovery (red)
NoneRegency/SuperiorOct 15 20062486$4,6004 noted in top left corner ;
Auction listing 
??unknownSwannMar 18 2006unknown$4,140
?Launch (red)NoneVaccariMar 12 2005716$4,2403,200 Euros
?Launch (red)NoneAuroraOct 2 2004465$2,600Lester E. Winick S-122 COA ;
Auction listing 
?Launch (black oval)HERRICKRobert A. SiegelMay 31 2003594$5,500Auction listing 
??unknownSuperiorMay 5 2001unknown$4,140
?Launch (black oval)HERRICKRobert A. SiegelSep 12 2000927$9,900Auction listing 
?Launch (red)HERRICKSuperiorMay 15 1999983$3,335
?Launch (black oval)noneSuperiorOct 31 19981297$1,380Offset cachet
?Launch (black oval)HERRICKSuperiorOct 26 1996504$3,680Lester E. Winick S-108 COA
?Launch (black oval)noneSuperiorFeb 25 1995546$4,025
?Recovery (red)noneSuperiorJun 25 1994668$4,025
?Launch (red) ;
Recovery (green)
noneSuperiorNov 15 19931139$3,850Offset cachet
???SuperiorJan 11 1993unknownunknown
?Launch (black oval)HERRICKRobert A. SiegelMar 31 1976242$1,155Auction listing 
?Launch (black oval)NoneRobert A. SiegelMar 27 1974231$1,100Auction listing 
?NoneNoneRobert A. SiegelMar 22 1973199$1,9801 noted in top left corner
Auction listing 


Annex D: Flown Apollo 15 "Shamrock" covers sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

NumberSold viaLot no.Sale DatePriceReference / Notes
1Christies177Sep 18 1999$4,830Auction listing 
Heritage40034Apr 18 2013$3,585Auction listing 
3Private salen/aMay 24 2012privateAccompanied by the flown clear plastic pouch
that all 8 covers were originally sealed in
6RRAuction528Nov 29 2012$4,110Auction listing 


Annex E: Orville Wright signed cover flown on Apollo 15 sold at auction or identified in private or museum collections

NumberSold viaLot no.Sale DatePriceReference / Notes
n/aSuperiorunknownOct 27 2001unknown
Robert A. Siegel402Jun 16 2007$5,463Auction listing 
Heritage40035Apr 18 2013$8,365Auction listing 
Footnotes :

The information about the Apollo 15 Flown Sieger Covers contained within this report was compiled from the most trusted sources currently recognized on the subject within the space-collecting genre, especially Ken Havekotte and Bob McLeod.

All information is believed accurate but there is no guarantee that there are no errors and/or omissions, and the authors and contributors take no responsibility for any losses that can occur by anyone attempting to purchase any of these covers based on the information provided here. Furthermore, the authors and contributors make no recommendations to buy, sell trade or otherwise deal in these covers. The information is provided strictly for informational purposes.

References :

CollectSpace.com article on Sieger covers

Sebile Flickr archive

"Mail from the Moon"The British Postal Museum & Archive

Legal Disclaimer:

While every effort is made to ensure that the content of this website is accurate, the website is provided “as is” and I make no representations or warranties in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information found on it. Nothing on this website should be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation and the author excludes all representations and warranties relating to the content and use of this site.

In no event shall the author be liable for any incidental, indirect, consequential or special damages of any kind, or any damages whatsoever, including, without limitation, those resulting from loss of profit, goodwill, income, or anticipated savings, whether or not advised of the possibility of such damage, arising out of or in connection with the use of this website or any linked websites.

< Previous Guide [ Back to the Guide ] Next Guide >