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.


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Airways News

Airways News

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Uniformfreak.com

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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

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

AirTimes

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Airline Spoons

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Airline Bag Lounge

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Travel Brochure Graphics

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

Ad Access

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Recent News: Aviation Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Historic Flirtey drone donated to Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum
Vertical Magazine (press release), April 29th

Flirtey is proud to be a part of the Smithsonian's unequaled aviation collection.” The drone was delivered to the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is located near Washington Dulles International Airport. The center...Read more

Commentary: An unusual view of the US Air Force's F-22
Reuters UK, April 28th

A day with the U.S. Air Force starts early. Arriving at an airbase in eastern England, my two Reuters colleagues and I know only a little about the day ahead: we will fly to an undisclosed European location on board a refuelling plane, accompanied by...Read more

NAS Whidbey schedules open house for June 25
Whidbey News-Times (subscription), April 13th

Aviation memorabilia will also be available for purchase as well as a variety of food and beverages. All visitors over the age of 18 will be required to have state or government issued identification for access to the base. Because of security measures...Read more

Yankee Air Museum's "Bomber Buffing" Saturday, April 9
The Daily Telegram, April 8th

Organizers report it will be a chance to visit an operational hangar, view airplanes closely and shop among those who enjoy aviation and airline memorabilia. Hunter said most people only get to see planes like the two bombers flying overhead...Read more

June 25: Open House at NAS Whidbey Island
SanJuanIslander.com, April 7th

Aviation memorabilia will also be available for purchase as well as a variety of food and beverages. All visitors over the age of 18 will be required to have state or government issued identification for access to the base. Due to security measures...Read more

Space Walk of Fame hosts memorabilia auction
Florida Today, March 30th

The U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum may be the place to be this Saturday for those interested in purchasing space and aviation memorabilia. The Museum will hold its Charity Space Memorabilia fundraising auction Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. with ...Read more

SDASM acquires major aviation collection
CBS 8 San Diego, March 8th

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Air and Space Museum announced Tuesday that it acquired a large collection of records from the Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation, which preserved the history of Vought Aircraft Cos. Vought is the company responsible ...Read more

Delta museum hosts airline memorabilia show
Atlanta Journal Constitution, June 18th

The Airliners International 2015 memorabilia show has 250 dealer tables beneath "The Spirit of Delta" Boeing 767 in the Delta Flight Museum. The 4-day show is open to the public for a $7 admission fee Thursday, June 18, 2 p.m.-6 p.m., Friday, June 19, ...Read more