Welcome to the Jefferson Space Museum
Astronauts, ground support crews, and even a few cosmonauts, have sometimes carried or sent U.S. $2 bills into the deep, black void of space during many historic missions that span manned spaceflight history.They took or sent these symbols of home as mementos, good luck charms, or simply favors for family or friends. For the astronauts, some have even suggested they took the bills in homage to the fighter pilot tradition of the "short snorter." Whatever the reason, they have made Thomas Jefferson a sort of honorary, accidental astronaut of manned spaceflight history. What you are about to experience in our Gallery is the world’s largest collection of space flown U.S. $2 bills, spanning the entire history of U.S. manned space flight.
As a collector of space flown artifacts from the golden age of space exploration – particularly Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo — I began to notice the appearance of the $2 bills in space memorabilia auctions at the beginning of this century. So I began acquiring them — from estates, from collectors, and directly from the astronauts themselves. Before long, these bills formed a discrete and important sub-genre of my collection, and worthy of their own focus… and thus, the Jefferson Space Museum was born.
Key for inclusion in the museum is the bill’s iron-clad flight and ownership provenance (either directly from the astronaut or cosmonaut who flew the bill, or a bill that was flown andinventoried by serial number in an official capacity), and detailed flight certification records that are endorsed and signed by the astronaut (or cosmonaut) for that particular bill and trip.
This virtual Jefferson Space Museum represents a sub-set of my overall space artifact collection, and it is the largest and most complete collection of its kind in the world. The collection has gained international press attention, and has been profiled in Autograph Magazine, the Society of Paper Money Collector's Journal, The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association's monthly publication, and as the feature cover story of Paper Money Values magazine (February 2010).
Currency collectors (called “numismatists”) value their items based on an item’s condition and rarity. Since these bills have traveled many millions of miles, at great speeds and within great and varied temperatures, some exhibit a great deal of wear. Some were folded and tucked into space suit pockets, or wrapped onto spacecraft wiring, or even kept in wallets for good luck! And others are pristine and near mint in condition.As for rarity, one has to consider the available “population” or number of a given bill from a given mission. Many of these bills are of very small and limited populations – they are either a population of 5, or 10, or 50 such bills flown. And a couple of bills are absolutely unique — the only such $2 bill flown on that mission.
It is my sincere hope that you enjoy the exhibits in this virtual museum as much as I enjoy acquiring, preserving, and sharing them and their unique history with you.
Richard Jurek | Founder & Curator | The Jefferson Space Museum
Richard Jurek is a marketing and communications executive, speaker, and author with over a quarter century of experience in marketing, PR, and corporate communications. He is also a passionate collector of rare artifacts from the golden age of space flight, and has co-written Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program with best-selling author David Meerman Scott.