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John Glenn

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Vintage silver spacesuit photo of Glenn signed with an early form of his signature

John Herschel Glenn, Jr., 1921–2016.  NASA astronaut, 1959–1964, 1998; United States Senator from Ohio, 1975–1999.  8” x 10⅛” color photograph signed Best regards— / J H Glenn Jr.

This is a vintage color photograph of a smiling, youthful Glenn in his silver Mercury space suit.  Out search of auction records found only two other signed images like this one.

The photo has an early form of Glenn’s signature.  For most of his astronaut career and afterward, Glenn signed his first and last name, “John Glenn.”  But early in his career, he signed as he has here—“J. H. Glenn, Jr.”  The latest dated item that we found in auction results using this form of Glenn’s signature was from February 1967, and that appeared to be an aberration.  The latest one before that dated from mid-1964. 

In 1959, NASA selected Glenn as one of the original seven astronauts in Project Mercury, the United States’ first manned space program.  Following suborbital flights by Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962.  He made three orbits in his Friendship 7 spacecraft in a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds.

Glenn came to the manned space program with considerable flight experience.  As a Marine pilot, and as an exchange pilot with the Air Force, he flew 59 South Pacific combat missions during Word War II and 90 during the Korean conflict.  He received many decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross six times.  After Korea, Glenn was a test pilot for Navy and Marine aircraft.  In 1957, he flew from Los Angeles to New York in an F8U Crusader in 3 hours, 23 minutes, setting a new transcontinental speed record in the first transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed.

Glenn left the astronaut corps in 1964.  He ran twice for the United States Senate before being elected from Ohio in 1974.  He served until 1999.

On February 20, 1997, the 35th anniversary of his Mercury flight, Glenn announced that he would retire from the Senate.  The next year, NASA invited him to rejoin the space program as a crew member on the space shuttle Discovery, and Glenn accepted.  On October 29, 1998, at age 77, Glenn became the oldest human to fly in space, testing the effects of space flight on the aging process.  The flight of STS-95 Discovery was a 9-day mission that traveled 134 orbits, covering 3.6 million miles, in 213 hours, 44 minutes.

This photograph is beautiful.  Glenn has inscribed and signed it with a blue fountain pen.  The photo has a few scattered handling marks, which are visible only if the photo is turned just right in the light.  The photo is in very fine condition.


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