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    

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter Aluminum Airplane Desk Model Usaf Fomaer 1960s E30Antique Vintage Wwi Curtiss Jn-4 Jenny, Wood Airplane Propeller, Prop No ReserveVintage Aeronca Sensenich Wooden & Brass Airplane Propeller 1930s Model-72c-42 Wwii B-17 Airplane Model Trench Art Aluminum Deco Lucite Star Base Boeing E45Convair F-102 Delta Dagger Topping Allyn Airplane Desk Model Usaf Vintage E88Wwii P-38 Lockheed Lightning Brass Bullet Trench Art Airplane Model Ashtray E20Nasa Apollo Saturn 5 Moon Rocket Aluminum Desk Model Bronze Logo Base E30Wwii An6530 Flying Goggles W/box & 4 Extra Pairs Of LensesDouglas C-124 Globemaster Mats Allyn Airplane Desk Model Usaf Vintage E88Wwi Dallas Us Pilot Half Wings Star Silver Gold Bullion Aviation Air ServiceWorking Vintage Aircraft Altimeter 0-24000 (no Reserve)Vintage 1949 Model Airplane TrophyAustralian Wwi Vintage Aviator Flying Goggles & Cap,cases, Complete KitAdmiral Byrd Arctic Expedition Airplane Model Cast Iron Hood Ornament Eagle E61Wwii Aaf A-2 Mission Painted Flight Jacket ~ Aero Leather Size 42 ~ Super Clean1950s Lockheed C-130 Hercules Topping Factory Desk ModelConcorde British Airways Hogan Diecast Model Scale 1:200 Hg8737 G-boaa GWwii Boeing B-29 Aluminum Trench Art Airplane Model Hiroshima Atomic Bomb E65B-29 Aluminum Trench Art Boeing Airplane Model Lucite Nagasaki Atom Bomb E59Hawaii- Vintage United Air Lines Poster, Stan Galli, Hula Dancer 1960s, 25"x 40"Vintage Grumman F8f Bearcat Topping ModelParis - Original Vintage Twa Travel Poster, David Klein, 1962, 15.625" X 25"Franklin Mint Armour Douglas Sbd-3 Dauntless Usmc Ace Of Spades Diecast AircraftOriginal Large Twa Airlines Poster "las Vegas" 63 David Klein Linenbacked1940's Pratt And Whitney Enameled Engine Logo Badge, Jacobs Mfg Co, MountedRimowa Thai Airways First Class Amenity Kit **rare Colour**British Airways Cabin Crew Uniform Metal Wings - Excellent ConditionHerpa Wings 1:500 Airbus A319 British Airways *g-euog* NewVintage Pan Am American Airline Pocket Knife Victorinox 2 BladeSwitzerland - Original Vintage Twa Travel Poster, David Klein, 1960's, 25" X 40"Vintage U.s. Air Force F-86 Sabre North American Aviation Desk ModelAmazing Monarch A300-600r Airbus Plane Model - Af D11Vintage Wwii Military Bendix B-6 Aircraft Accelerometer Gauge Fighter Plane General Dynamics F111b Desktop Model Estate Item Camo Swing Wing JetAirplane Art Deco Bomber Stuka Trench Art Usaf Raf Brass Ww2 Luftwaffe Fascio Original 1970's Boeing Vertol Yuh-61a Us Army Helicopter Promotional Desk ModelHobbymaster 1:72, U.s. Air Force, Md F-4 Phantom IiVintage Poster Lot * Panam * Dc6 * Airlines * United * Argentina * Caribbean Gemini Jets 1:200 G2usa406 Us Air Boeing 727-200 Reg - N720us - Us Air/piedmont Gemini Jets 1:400, Air France , Airbus A380-800, F-hpjdCorgi Lockheed C-130a Hercules Usn Vc-3 Diecast 1:144 Model Aircraft Aa31308Pacmin Pacific Miniatures Challenger 300 - Bombardier Business Aircraft XojetOld Tobacco Tin Squadron Leader Curly Cut Ww1 Bi Plane Raf C. 1930s.Gemini Jets 1/200 G2coa297 Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 & Winglets N14645Airlines Vintage America West Captain Pilot Uniform With Wings Corgi 1:72 Aviation Archive Gloster Gladiator Mki Royal Swedish Airforce Aa36204Gemini Jets 1:200 G2hal302 Hawaiian Airlines Namc Ys-11 Reg - N1145hGemini Jets 1:200, Boeing Kc-135r, U.s Air Force, Hawaii, 0329Vintage U.s. Air Force F-86 Sabre Jet North American Aviation, Inc Desk ModelVintage Fairchild Aircraft Service Pin 3 Diamond 10k Pegasus Wings Airbus A320 Easyjet Airline Orange Reversed Colours Desktop Model Scale 1:200 Sky500/herpa Wings 1:500 Airbus A380-800 British Airways Ba0529x UsedHerpa Wings 1:500 Boeing 787-8 British Airways *g-zbja* 524698 RareSe-210 Caravelle Sas Scandinavian Airlines 1960s Tekno Model Denmark Scale 1:250Herpa Wings 1:500 Antonov An-124 Maximus Air Cargo *ur-zyd* RareVintage Pan Am Loose Leaf Book BinderDehavilland Dhc-6 Twin Otter Model Airplane With StandJat Airlines Boeing 737-300 Travel Agent Display Model. Scale 1:100Gemini Jets 1:200 G2twa101 Trans World Airlines Boeing 727-200 Reg - N543511960's Poster Of Air Canada Vintage Travel Ireland

Recent News: Aviation Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Vintage airliner to visit Santa Teresa
Las Cruces Sun-News, January 21st

Besides access to the plane, pilot and flight, the event will also have vintage cars and aviation memorabilia, as well as other classic items at the airport. The vintage plane was designed and built by the automobile icon Henry Ford. Ford saw the...Read more

Local archive sends major gift to Smithsonian
Wicked Local Sharon, January 20th

The Trust announces its donation of an extensive and unique collection to the National Air and Space Museum, a part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The Evelyn Way Kendall Ballooning and Early Aviation Collection consists of thousands...Read more

Food writer Richard Foss brings 'Food in the Air and Space' down to earth
Easy Reader, January 19th

The Manhattan Beach resident and Easy Reader food writer spent nearly two years crisscrossing the country researching his recent book. He visited aviation museums and airline memorabilia collectors, interviewed retired pilots and flight attendants and...Read more

Take flight to museums that specialize in aviation history
Buffalo News, January 17th

The Wings of Eagles Discovery Center (formerly the National Warplane Museum) houses a collection of military aircraft and aviation memorabilia including an extensive collection of military aircraft from World War II until today. The museum also has...Read more

Flight memories for enthusiasts at Croydon Airport aviation collectors fair
Sutton Guardian, January 7th

Last Sunday, 447 people came through the doors of the Croydon Airport aviation collectors fair to get their hands on anything and everything to do with planes. Sutton Guardian: Stalls were selling toys and models, clothing, books and airline bags at...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