From the start of regular U.S. passenger service in 1914, travelers have saved a wide variety of aviation and airline memorabilia, spanning everything from fine china and food-service items to maps and timetables. In general, older objects are the most desirable, though collectors frequently focus on specific carriers or aircraft models to narrow their field.

When the early airmail routes began offering seats for traveling passengers, they often included free meals or refreshments to tempt big-spenders away from traditional rail transport. Full meals were first served during the 1930s on china made by well-known companies like Wedgwood, Hall, Syracuse, Royal Doulton, and Homer Laughlin. These sets were designed to be lighter than household dinnerware, and often included the airline’s logo or name in their graphics.

Besides these china place-settings, airlines required a variety of glassware, flatware, napkins, menus, and other food service items. Passenger travel also necessitated the use of more disposable pieces, like safety-direction cards, amenities kits, swizzle sticks, blankets, headrest covers, and baggage labels, all of which are collected today. Whether used by major or minor airlines, paper goods like maps and timetables are particularly more valuable the older they are. Since the number of scheduled flights was very limited before 1930, aviation ephemera from this time period is quite rare.

Aviation collectibles also include any equipment used by airline personnel or ground staff, which is typically closely linked with certain carriers. Crew uniforms and badges or “wings” have been used since the earliest days of air travel, with specific designs to indicate employee positions from flight attendants to pilots. Early figural metal badges, like a Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) pin with its Native American headdress logo, are sought for their rarity and their aesthetic appeal. Junior wings, the free pinbacks given to children on most flights during the 20th century, are another popular item among collectors.

In addition to exotic travel posters, commercial airlines created an array of promotional items to give their customers, like ashtrays, postcards, cigarette lighters, calendars, mugs, pinbacks, and more. Playing cards were one of the most common airline giveaways, as they were useful in-flight, simple to pack, and cheap to produce. Early decks dating to the 1920s are typically the most desirable, like the 1929 deck issued by TAT to celebrate its new bi-coastal service.

As passenger carriers debuted new aircraft designs, they frequently manufactured miniature models in metal or plastic to place in ticket offices and travel agencies. While many of these were produced as scale models of actual airplanes, others were created merely as decorative ashtrays or sculptures, especially during the heyday of glamorous air service in the '40s and '50s.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum holds some 50,000 artifacts, a significant subset of which can be viewed on this … [read review or visit site]

Aviation Models

Aviation Models

Peter Jackson and friends have put together this great gallery of travel agent airline display models. The photo ga… [read review or visit site]

Airways News

Airways News

Chris Sloan's collection of airline photos and paper. Includes four main sections: timetables and maps, planespotti… [read review or visit site]

Uniformfreak.com

Uniformfreak.com

Cliff Muskiet's incredible collection of 600 vintage stewardess uniforms from over 250 airlines since the 1950's, i… [read review or visit site]

Lufthansa Model Collection

Lufthansa Model Collection

A private collection of desktop Lufthansa airplane models. Available in English and German, this compact but rich s… [read review or visit site]

AirTimes

AirTimes

This incredible collection of airline timetables by Perry Sloan includes hundreds of vintage and modern airline tim… [read review or visit site]

Airline Spoons

Airline Spoons

Dieter's Flickr photoset of over 1,000 airline spoons is stunning. Browsable alphabetically, the spoons go back as … [read review or visit site]

Airline Bag Lounge

Airline Bag Lounge

It would be hard to pick just one of these carry-ons for your next flight: Troy Litten's Airline Bag Lounge is a vi… [read review or visit site]

Travel Brochure Graphics

Travel Brochure Graphics

The staggering number of images on this site are, unbelievably, only a subset of David Levine's collection of 1920s… [read review or visit site]

Advertising Antiques

Advertising Antiques

This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]

Ad Access

Ad Access

Duke University's library has pulled together an impressive collection of over 7,000 ads printed in U.S. and Canadi… [read review or visit site]

Plan 59

Plan 59

From the Nostlagia Factory in Virginia comes this celebration of 'mid-century automotive advertising illustrations'… [read review or visit site]

American Package Museum

American Package Museum

Ian House's gallery of early 20th Century American package designs. Browse the exhibits in slide show mode or view … [read review or visit site]

Found in Moms Basement

Found in Moms Basement

Paula Zargaj-Reynolds’ blog, an extensive collection of 20th century vintage advertising, is a visual feast. Scro… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Vintage Large Wwii Wood Wooden Airplane Propeller Aircraft Prop StearmanAustralian Ww2 Raaf Air Force Lasicas Leather Aviators Flying Helmet Hat C1942Old Vintage C.g. Conn Elkhart Indiana Altimeter Aircraft Instrument Gauge BlackGrey Bmi Full Size Aircraft Catering Trolley/airline Double Galley Cart +drawersRed Monarch Half Aircraft Catering Trolley/airline Single Galley Cart +drawersU.s.a.f. Jet Liner Desk Top Model - Topping Models - Akron Ohio -no BaseOriginal 1960s Pacific Northern Airlines Travel Poster Alaska Flag Line Skiing Vtg Wwii British Mosquito Id Recognition Spotter Model Aircraft 1943 By CruverVintage Desk Model Junkyard: X-13, Topping F3h Demon X2, F-105, Douglas StandWwii Boeing B-29 Bomber Desk Model Airplane Ashtray-usaaf Us Army Air Force-nrRare Vintage 1953 A2d-1 Skyshark Id Or Recognition Spotter Model AircraftTippco Klm Constellation Propellor Airliner Airplane Aircraft Tin Toy ModelWwi Era Aircraft Tachometer/instrument Victometer Jones/motrola Curtiss JennyAir New Zealand 1/100 737-300 Classic - Pacmin ModelVintage Thunder Chief F105 Chrome Model ..rare Estate FindVintage Original 1951 Pan American Calcutta By Clipper PosterGemini Jets Boeing 747-400 Virgin Atlantic W/ Stand 1:400 Scale Model Gjvir10821941 Antique Vintage Wwii,sensenich Wood Airplane Propeller, Prop No ReserveVintage Circa 1946 Sensenich Aircraft Propeller 72" Excellent Shape No Reserve!Vintage Grumman Desk Model Fighter Plane On StandLarge Ruehl Heckman 1940 Catalina Deco Aviation Calendar Flying Over Avalon RareVtg Wwii Cruver Us P51-d Mustang Id Recognition Spotter Model Aircraft 1945Vintage Original David Klein Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl Poster With ConnieRare 1960 Twa Travel Agent Light Up Sign Airline AdvertisingAntique Rare Kingsbury Toy Keene, Nh Airplane New York-paris Spirit Of St LouisVtg F4d-1 Skyray Id Recognition Spotter Model Aircraft 1955 By HawkVtg British Sea Fury Recognition Spotter Model Fighter Aircraft 1951Collectable "concorde" British Airways Silver Plated BlotterVtg Russian Yak-23 Id Recognition Spotter Model Fighter Aircraft 1953Original Rare 1960s Alaska Airlines Travel Poster Eskimo Dance Illust Kotzebue Dark Blue Half Aircraft Catering Trolley/airline Single Galley Cart +drawersVtg Ussr Russian Fantail Fighter Jet Id Recognition Spotter Model Aircraft 1955Aeroclassics Olympic Boeing 747-200 1:400 Scale Die Cast ModelVtg British Fairey Gannet Sub Chaser Id Recognition Spotter Model Aircraft 1955Rare Large Piedmont F-27 Metal Travel Agency Desk Model Airplane FokkerBritish Airways Stewardess Cabin Crew Flight Attendant Air Hostes Hat And ScarfWwi Style Us Aviation Pilot Wing Badge With Torch - Probable Fantasy PinVintage Chrome Airplane Ashtray Boeing B-52 B 57 Allyn Sales Co. LaVintage Mgm-31 Pershing Missile Metal Model Us Army 81st Artillery Nuclear Rare 1956 Air France Planisphere World Travel Poster Percival Paris NrSkymarks 1:200 Skr662 Raf Multi Role Refuelling Tanker Airbus A330-200Heinkel He 112 Airplane Desk Model Brass Trench Art Luftwaffe Magyar Légierő E41Virgin Airlines Pin Badges Airways Joblot Aeroplane Tail Wing AtlanticVintage Pioneer Instrument Company Magnetic Compass (aircraft)Vintage Original Pan American Clipper Rome PosterBritish Airways Airbus A319 Geminijets 1:400 (very Rare!)Aviation Altimeter, Airplane Gauge 10,000 Feet Vintage '44-'59 Pan Am Stewardess Wing-pin-3rd Issue Uniform Badge Pan American Superb!Rare Vintage Original 1960's Twa Travel Poster Land Of Pharaohs Abu Simbel EgyptVintage Original Pan American Clipper Germany PosterVintage British Venom Jet Fighter Id Or Recognition Spotter Model Aircraft 1951Vintage Boeing 30 Years Service Pin 10k Gf (gold Filled) With 3 DiamondsPopular Aviation Magazine Vintage 1930s Lot Aircraft History Model AirplanesVintage U.s.a.f. Tm-16 Martin Mace Missile - Topping Desk Top ModelVtg British Swift F-4 Id Recognition Spotter Model Fighter Aircraft 1954 By HawkCinque Ports Flying Club Lympne Airport Kent Vintage Car Aero Badge BrooklandsGemini Jets 1/200 G2coa297 Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 & Winglets N14645Herpa Wings / Official Ana Model 1/200 Ana Cargo B767-300bcfSlide Photo China Civil Air Transport Cat Douglas Dc-6 Aircraft In Taipei 1963Original Rare Eastern Airlines Metal Sign Painted Large - Approx 35.5" X 6.5"

Recent News: Aviation Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Last chance to dine at Tustin's Nieuport 17
OCRegister, March 26th

When Nieuport 17 closes next week, its owners have one month to clear out a significant collection of aviation memorabilia that's expanded on the restaurant's walls for nearly half a century. "We were different than most restaurants," owner Bill Bettis...Read more

In Asia, Layovers That Let You Take in the Sights
New York Times, March 20th

At Jet Lag Café, customers can have a cocktail while browsing the airline memorabilia collected by the owner, Vincent Timmermans, a former Sabena Airlines flight attendant. The fondness the city now shows toward the airport is a contrast to the...Read more

Americans have long had a 'love affair' with their automobiles: MY OHIO
newsnet5.com, March 6th

At the Crawford Auto-Aviation Collection of the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, transportation curator Derek Moore is surrounded by scores of love affairs of the people who drove them. The vintage well-kept cars date to the earliest...Read more

Retired Goodyear blimp gondola joins Cleveland exhibit
Vallejo Times Herald, February 28th

After the Spirit of Goodyear was retired a year ago, Akron-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. donated the gondola to the Western Reserve Historical Society's Crawford Auto Aviation Collection, where it was recently unveiled. The historical society's...Read more

Western Reserve Historical Society lands remnant of a Goodyear blimp (photos)
cleveland.com, February 25th

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced the donation last week and the gondola was unveiled at the society's Crawford Auto Aviation Collection. The gondola is an apt addition to the society's World in Motion display. One of its nearest neighbors...Read more

Meet the Man With 40k Pieces of Airline Memorabilia in His NYC Apartment
ABC News, September 15th

Marvin G. Goldman has accomplished much in his life so far. In addition to a 43-year career as an international attorney, he'll be married 50 years this month and is the father of three kids. He's perhaps best known for holding the world's largest...Read more

Airline memorabilia show at Hopkins has everything but a window seat (slideshow)
The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com, August 16th

Don Kaylor, owner of Inflight 200, offers 1:200 scale die-cast metal models of airliners at the Cleveland Airline Show held at the Sheraton Hopkins adjacent to the airport on Saturday, August 16, 2014. These models are made in limited editions, sold...Read more

Former chief pilot of Concorde sells £100000 of aviation memorabilia to fund ...
Daily Mail, July 17th

A former chief pilot of Concorde is selling £100,000 worth of his aviation memorabilia so he can fund his 20-year-old daughter through flying school. Mike Bannister is selling a host of memorabilia including cockpit instruments, a damaged blade, a...Read more