I make no secret of being a space nerd. I’ve been fascinated with the stars, the universe, and space travel since I was a little kid.


I was way too young to read when my parents bought me a 14-volume set of Childcraft books—along with the oversized, photo-rich, and more expensive science and space companion volumes. Childcraft was a multi-volume storytelling encyclopedia for young children. Published in the 1930s by W. F. Quarrie & Company—at the time, Quarrie also published the World Book Encyclopedia.

My parents read to me every night from Childcraft books, but what I was really interested in were the pictures in the science and space books. Decades later, some of the most exciting days of my career were spent working as a contract marketing consultant at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Fast forward

Today, Jacob and I are active art collectors. I monitor Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and other auction houses for specific keywords describing pieces we might want to add to our catalog. I also monitor different keywords on topics that interest me but not for pieces we want to buy. One of those words is “NASA.”

When I saw this lot, my eyes grew as big as saucers.

LOT 80 Voyager Golden Record

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s personal copy of the master audio recording of the famed NASA Voyager Golden Record, New York, 22 June 1977.
Two double-sided reels of 1/4 inch reel-to-reel audio tape at 7 1/2 ips, stored in their original Columbia Recording Studios boxes, contents labeled by hand in blue ink; the audio quality of both tapes is excellent. The two reels have total running times of 51:38 minutes and 60:49 minutes, respectively as follows:
-Reel 1: Side 1: 1. Music, 2. World Language Voices, 3. UN Delegates, Whales, 4. Sounds of Earth (22 mins); Side 2: 5. Music of the World (29:38 mins)
-Reel 2 :Side 1: Music of the World Various (30:25 mins); Side 2: Music of the World Various (30:34 mins)
Provenance: Directly from the personal collection of Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan

Here’s the story of NASA Voyager’s Golden Record as told by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan:

NASA notes that the iconic Voyager Golden Record, the first interstellar message sent by humankind to the cosmos, is considered one of the most important artifacts in the history of space exploration and recorded sound. Meant as a gift to any life that finds it thousands of years from now, the Golden Record encapsulates the best of ourselves and is engineered to withstand its journey across space and time. With a shelf-life of 1 to 5 billion years, the Golden Record is destined to circumnavigate the Milky Way galaxy perhaps a dozen times and will certainly outlive our planet.

Today, the Voyager probe containing the Golden Record is the furthest man-made object from our planet. It successfully crossed into interstellar space and passed the heliopause, the boundary between our solar system and the rest of the galaxy.

More info on the Golden Record at Sotheby’s. And context from Radio Lab, WNYC.