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Press Release - August 9, 2007

Joe Garino Collection of Space Memorabilia to be Auctioned by Heritage!

Legendary Astronaut Trainer Prepared Armstrong, Conrad, Others

Dallas, TX: Although Joe Garino, Jr. never went to the moon himself, he was there in spirit with the many astronauts that he trained. From the earliest days of the space program, Garino worked with members of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo crews, including Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the lunar surface, getting them in top physical condition to meet the grueling physical challenges ahead of them.

As Physical Condition Supervisor for NASA, Garino trained astronauts in his gym at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center, now known as the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Garino worked with the best of the best, promoting the role of physical conditioning as crucial for peak astronaut performance and successful missions. He also invented space exercise equipment, such as the exer-gym - an isotonic exercise unit used by astronauts on space missions - and developed improvements for the space helmet and air mask for the comfort of the astronauts. Original Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton once called Garino, "one of the very few outstanding airmen I know;" high praise indeed for the man behind the men who bravely went "where no man had gone before."

"As thanks for his innovations and close training with the astronauts, Joe Garino was often the recipient of very interesting souvenirs," said Tom Slater Director of Americana auctions for Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, "many of which will be offered in our upcoming auction. Chief among them is a small American flag Neil Armstrong carried with him during his historic moonwalk, and which he presented to Garino upon his return to Earth. The flag has been affixed to a wooden shield plaque, complete with an authentic Apollo XI mission patch and an engraved brass plate identifying the items."

"Another poignant souvenir is the wooden door plaque, bearing a three-D model of a Gemini spacecraft, that adorned Gus Grissom's office door," Slater said. "According to Garino, ' I was asked by [former Mercury and Gemini astronaut] Gordon Cooper to remove Gus's artifacts from his office to hand over to Betty [Grissom's wife] after Colonel Grissom's death in [the] Apollo fire.' Later, Cooper gave the plaque to Garino, who kept it as a cherished memento of a brave friend and co-worker."

"The Garino Collection is rich in material documenting the earliest days of this nation's exploration of outer space," Slater said. "Vintage signed photographs, rare space-flown medallions and much more are being offered to the collecting community worldwide for the very first time. Anyone who remembers these heady days, and who sat in front of the television set, entranced, as man took his first tentative steps into the cosmos, will want to be a part of this landmark auction. Of course, more information can be found at, including full-color, enlargeable images of each and every lot, complete with our thorough catalog description. You can also place your bids online, all from the comfort and convenience of your home or office."

The Joe Garino Collection will be offered in Heritage Auction Galleries' upcoming Space Exploration Signature auction, to be held on September 20, 2007 in Dallas, TX.

U.S. Flag Carried on the Moon by Neil Armstrong:
ESTIMATE: $20,000 - $30,000

Gus Grissom's Gemini Door Plaque:
ESTIMATE: $5,000 - $8,000

Gemini Astronauts Signed Color Photograph:
ESTIMATE: $5,000 - $10,000

Apollo 1 Signed Color Crew Photograph:
ESTIMATE: $10,000 - $15,000

Gemini 3 Flown Fliteline Sterling Silver Medallion:
ESTIMATE: $1,500 - $2,000

Project Mercury Astronauts Large Signed Color Photograph Taken the Day JFK was Inaugurated:
ESTIMATE: $10,000 - $15,000

For more information about Heritage's auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit

Prospective consignors and sellers of political memorabilia, Americana, and related collectibles are invited to visit Or simply email Tom Slater at

To reserve your copy of any Heritage auction catalog, please contact Customer Service at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 150, or visit to order by email.

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I would also like to thank your auction company for the promotion of the auction and was pleasantly surprised by the number of bidders who attended, as well as the prices realized. It was a pleasure doing business with you.
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Warren Miller
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