By Dr Ross Smith (SU 5002)
These comments are from the point of view of an interested viewer and not a judge. They do not take into account FIP judging criteria and are more directed to telling the story rather than FIP criteria or cover rariety.
A very successful presentation of an ambitious subject, to present the US conquest of the Moon from precursors through Project Mercury and Gemini to Apollo and ending with Apollo 17. The exhibit is generally well thought out and includes an excellent range of covers, including a number of very rare covers. Certainly worthly of high praise.
My main criticism would be that in a couple of cases it spends too much time on a particular area at the expense of more important areas. One area I would reduce is VIP cards. I quickly counted 10 official versions plus 4 private versions plus a special uncut version. For such a wide ranging exhibit, I believe this is far too many. An Apollo 7 one (first VIP card) and an Apollo 16 or 17 version showing the official and the privately produced versions would be enough and would leave room for other more significant covers. The other area would be Captain's cover. While very worthwhile, again it may be better to reduce the number, especially those that take up a whole page, to allow for other covers.
Now, what would I add. In looking at the exhibit I only found one land based and one sea based tracking station covers. These stations were vital to landing a man on the moon so I would suggest adding some more, especially non-US based station covers. Somewhere like Bermuda, Woomera and/or Zanzibar for Project Mercury and then for Apollo introduce the DSN by having covers from Goldstone, Madrid and Honeysuckle Creek/Tidbinbilla on the one page. I would also add a tracking ship or two to the Gemini section and around Apollo 11 note that they had been reduced to four. Finally I would have liked to have seen a couple of recovery helicopter covers, one for the main recovery helicopter and one for the Swim helicopter carrying the recovery swimmers. Finally I would consider a few more event covers such as for mid-flight course correction burn, re-entry burn etc
Minor personal addition. I'd add a USS Noa cover with a non-Mercury stamp and a 20th postmark and note that it may have been aboard on the recovery day.
Reply from Ray
I included all of the VIP cards and all the Captain's covers I have because I wanted viewers to see each of the various ones. The Captain's Covers vary widely in appearance and I do think it appropriate to show all. But I still need Apollo 10 and Apollo 17. I wish that I had a Glenn Noa cover without the Mercury stamp. I've just not been able to win one of the very occasional covers that comes on the market. I didn't pick up tracking covers until Apollo. It makes sense to look for some now and incorporate some as well.