It is now 47 years since a human first stepped onto the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969 while the world watched in wonderment. This historic event was commemorated by the Cybis porcelain studio the following spring with a limited edition sculpture. Named Tranquility Base ‘Apollo 11 Moon Mission’, it was an edition of only 111 for the retail market, priced at $1500 each. It sold out within a year.
The overall height is approximately 18″ including the wood base with its brass plaque. In addition to the 111 retail pieces, each of the Apollo 11 astronauts were presented with one, and an artist’s proof was deposited with the Smithsonian Institute in 1980. (The astronauts were also separately presented with special editions of the Cybis Columbia shown in Born in the USA.)
The piece may have been sculpted by Helen Marshall McCook, although this attribution is unconfirmed. It’s interesting to note the branch and foliage that are tucked beneath the bird’s tail, perhaps to offer some additional support against accidental breakage? The painted Cybis signature, copyright symbol, and sculpture number are located on the back side of the moon just above its juncture with the wood base. This particular eagle was used again in 1976 for a the open-edition Eagle Atop the Palisades, seen in Later Birds.
Although the Cybis 1979 catalog lists the sculpture name as I’ve shown it above, the actual US Copyright registration on May 1, 1970, shows it as Apollo 11, tranquility base. [Eagle landing on moon; on base].
Purchasers of the sculpture also received a folder containing the ‘official’ Cybis photograph of the piece, suitable for framing if desired. The gold-foil-backed cover is impressed with a rendering of the limited edition Turtle Doves ‘Doves of Peace’ sculpture whose issue had just been completed in 1970.
The example above has a “gold” eagle instead of the standard all-white bisque. This piece was clearly part of the retail edition when created because it is numbered as #70, and the plaque has the standard wording – there is nothing different except for the eagle. However, I am 99% certain that the gold wash was applied by an owner because it is certainly not the typical Cybis workmanship. What a shame, considering the rarity of the sculpture; after all, very few Cybis designs were produced in such a small edition!
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The Cybis Archive is a continually-updated website that provides the most comprehensive range of information about Cybis within a single source. It is not and never has been part of the Cybis Porcelain studio, which is no longer in business.