The best resource for collectors of space patches is Russ Still's
Relics of the Space Race.
Only a single chapter is devoted to patches, but that chapter is
worth the price of the book. It can be ordered through the collectSPACE
web site. Another excellent book, though not oriented towards collectors
per se, is Dick Lattimer's All
We Did Was Fly to the Moon. Anyone who is interested in
or who collects space patches should have both of these books. Finally, Chris Spain's Crew Patches web site is an essential reference for collectors of pre-STS patches.
Serious collectors generally eschew the 3" souvenir patches,
preferring the 4" patches. Some collectors like Beta cloth
patches, though you need to be careful about the quality of these,
as many on the market tend to be quality rejects due to misaligned
colors. As for "flown" patches, I personally don't consider
them as "collectibles" -- collecting these would quickly
bankrupt most collectors. If you're considering starting a collection,
it's a good idea to pick a theme and stick to it; otherwise, there's
no end to the patches you could acquire.
- For current (i.e. Shuttle, ISS, etc.) patches and current production
of older patches, you can order directly from AB
Emblems and Caps, which claims to be "Official Contractor
to NASA," which they have in fact been since Apollo 15, and as
far as I know, still are. However, the older patches they sell
are mostly remakes, and of lower quality than the originals.
- Personally, I find The
Space Store to be a reliable source of NASA mission patches
with prompt service. The patches sold here are probably manufactured
by AB Emblems.
Now is also a good source of current patches, and some older
ones as well.
Aviation, in the UK, claims: "We have probably the largest
stock of space and aviation patches in the world". It is certainly
impressive, and includes many Russian and European patches. I
gather that they make many of their own patches.
- Older patches, ones no longer produced -- the Lion Brothers
patches, beta-cloth patches, and so on -- are rarely available
except through auctions. Farthest
Reaches is the only alternative I know of, but the selection
of patches tends to be quite limited.
- I'm happy to report that Donnis Willis has resurrected his Lunar Legacies business. Donnis also posts auctions regularly on eBay under the name llspaceauctions.
- For Soviet and Russian space patches Alex
Panchenko is probably the best source for a variety of vintages.
And check out Spaceview
of the Netherlands for recent Russian patches.
- eBay always
has lots of patches, but seldom anything of interest except to
the casual or beginning collector -- once in a while there will
be something really worthwhile here, so do check.
Galleries is generally a good source for interesting patches
(as well as other space memorabilia), but they only have about
two auctions a year. While their web site in not very informative,
you can view lots and place absentee bids through eBay
As for my own collection, you've been looking at it. With only
a handful of exceptions, nearly every image of an embroidered patch
on this site, and every image of a beta cloth patch is a scan or
photograph of a patch in my collection. I started with the patches
I had collected contemporaneously for Apollo 11 through ASTP. I
just kept them stashed away until, a few years ago, my wife suggested
that I display them somehow. I decided to fill in the missing Apollo
missions (1, and 7 through 10) and frame them.
In late 1999 I started taking classes in web design, and I had
to come up with a project. I had never been able to find a site
about space patches, so I decided to make that the subject of my
class project. I knew about the stories behind the patches from
Dick Lattimer's book; and I knew about the various different patches
from Russ Still's book. I put together a site, and in the course
of doing so, I did more research to fill it out. In the process
I discovered that there were people selling all kinds of patches,
expecially on eBay. I decided to pick up a few of these patches
... and it quickly snowballed.
My particular twist on patch collecting is that I like to frame
patches with associated artwork. So far I have six framed patches,
which I share with you here:
Apollo 11, with artwork by Walter Weber.
This is a page from the July1950 National Geographic Magazine.
Apollo 13, with artwork by Lumen Winter.
This is a print of a painting Winter executed in 1981, not
the original "Steeds" painting.
Apollo 17, with a gorgeous photograph
of the Apollo Belvedere by Joe
Skylab Expedition 1, with a poster of
the painting by Kelly Freas that appeared on the cover of
Skylab Expedition 2, with "Vitruvian
Man" drawing from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci.
Apollo/Soyuz Test Project, with a lithograph
of artwork by Robert McCall. I had this print signed by
ASTP technical director Glynn Lunney at the time of the
There are a number of questions raised on this site that remain
unanswered. Who manufactured the Gemini patches? What is the origin
of the amazingly faithful recently remade Apollo 9 patches, and
do matching patches for other flights exist? Who made the Apollo
9 and 10 embroidered patches of the style worn by the crew in their
official portrait? What happened to the original Pucci artwork for
the Apollo 15 patch? What other artists and designers, not mentioned
in these pages, were involved in the design of these patches? If
you have any insights into these or other questions, please send
me a note using the feedback page.
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