GEMINI 3: Flown $2 Bill
Launch Date: March 23, 1965 | Splashdown Date: March 23, 1965
About the Provenance
Purchased from a private space collector. This bill is signed and dated by the crew, including their mission designation “GT-3,” and comes complete with an original Don Wagner crew signed flight certificate. This bill was later photographed with John Young at a Novaspace Galleries signing event.
About the Bill
The corned beef sandwich was not the only contraband item onboard this flight. It seems that with the launch of the first Gemini mission, the ground crew was back at it, smuggling currency aboard the space craft. The Gemini 3 flown $2 bills (along with a set of flown $1 bills) are some of the most famous, and well documented flown paper currency. As the story goes, three members of the McDonnell Douglas launch crew assembled fifty $2 bills and fourty-one $1 bills and stowed them inside the capsule with Gus Grissom's permission. The bills were stuffed behind the instrument panel on the right side. This gave Gus Grissom the opportunity to execute one of the great space race gotcha's of all time. He had his secretary find all the play money she could. He secretly took it with him on the flight, and during orbit, switched out the real money with the play money. Upon return, when the launch crew went into the capsule to recover the flown currency, they found the play money instead. The guys never said a word. Grissom later called the guys to explain how "funny things can happen in space," and then hung up. Later, the guys received a package from Grissom — inside were all the flown bills, and each one was signed and flight certified by both crew members. Don Wagner designed certificates which included each bill’s serial number to record the flight status of the bills, and they, too, were signed by the crew. A complete inventory of the flown one and two dollar bills are recorded in Russ Still’s Relics of The Space Race.