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    Vostok 1 Parade Invitation

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    Yuri Gagarin became, as every (Russian) school-kid knows, the first man in space on April 12, 1961.

    If you were a senior-enough Communist Party official, like Comrade Ivan Nasledukhov here, you got a formal invitation to the celebration parade in Red Square on April 14. This is one of those invitations. The reverse is blank except for a blue-pencil notation of the date, 4-12-61. You had to present your ID papers in order to be seated in the reviewing stands.

    This was in poor condition when I came across it, in a box with some otherwise mostly uninteresting documents. It was very soft and had no strength at all. I knew I wanted to preserve it and I decided to have it laminated. I know that is anathema to many collectors, but I didn't have to ask anyone.


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    Here is Comrade Nasledukhov's embossed 1968 invitation to the 19th Kalinin Region Communist Party conference, held at the Sickle and Hammer Culture Palace in Moscow. The stamp on the back entitled him to a balcony seat. I don't know if that was good or bad.

    <<Chuck, how do you manage to get your hands on all of these items?>>

    I lived in Tbilisi for 31 months and there just wasn't much of anything legal to do there for fun. I prowled the one flea market constantly and I often bought boxes of documents, just to go through them in my spare time in order to have something to do. I became known as the weird American who would buy almost anything. Later on I became friends with some big-time collectors who helped me out a lot, and still do.

    <<I would have suggested the plastic sleeves used for pictures >>

    Yes, that would have been a good idea, but such things just aren't available there. Lamination was. Anyway, I kind of like them like this. People can pick them up and examine them with further damaging them.


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