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    

Wood Airplane Propeller 70" Sensenich Wooden Antique Aircraft No RsvChrome Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Desk Model - Plane OnlyVintage Travel Poster United Airlines Chicago 100% Original Air Lines Wwii Usn Or Usmc Pilots Leather Flight Helmet ~ Naf 1092 ~ Clean Estate ItemAntique, Vintage 1940's, Wwii Era Wood Airplane Propeller, Sensenich, No ReserveUsaf X-1 Airplane - Autographed By Chuck Yeager - Mint - Super Good Vintage Chrome Plated Swiss Air Advertising Ashtray Aeroplane Buhler 6491Vintage Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Chrome Metal Desk Model Ashtray Allyn 1950sVtg 1960's Precise F-111b General Dynamics Airplane Jet Promo Display Desk ModelVtg 60s Topping Xb-70 Valkyrie B-70 Airplane Jet Bomber Promo Display Desk ModelHuge Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter Jet Engine Turbine Compressor Fan Disc Aircraft TableVintage Boeing Minuteman Missile Hardend And Dispersed Deask Top ModelExcellent Vintage P-38 Lightning Ww2 Warbird Airplane Cast Aluminum Model Nice1:200 Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-400f - Herpa Hogan Collector Model Lockheed F-104 Starfighter Old Vintage Desktop Model Airplane W/ Stand Usaf | Vintage | United Airlines | San Francisco Poster | Original | Stan Galli |Wwii Usn Or Usmc Pilots Leather Flight Helmet ~ Naf 1092 ~ Clean Estate ItemVintage North American Aviation Gam-77 Hound Dog Desk Top Model AirplaneVintage North American Aviation, Inc Xb-70 Desk Top PlaneRare Vintage Fly Delta C&s Airlines License Plate Topper ScarcePacmin Pacific Miniatures 1/100 Lufthansa Airbus A320neo ModelVintage Pacmin Pac-min Gulf Stream Lv Jet Aircraft Airplane Plane Desk Top ModelVtg 1960's Precise F-14 Grumman Airplane Fighter Jet Promo Display Desk ModelVintage Antique Metal Lighted Airplane Hood Ornament Ww2 German Luftwaffe Em / Nco Leather Belt Buckle - ExcellentVtg 1950's Topping Ta-4f Skyhawk Airplane Jet Promo Display Desk Desktop Model1:200 Cathay Pacific 747-400 Vr-hot Diecast Model Bbox-200 On Inflight200 MoldVtg 1950's Topping Douglas A-4f Skyhawk Airplane Jet Promo Display Desk ModelVintage North American Aviation,inc X15 Desk Top Display Airplane CooollJanes All The Worlds Aircraft 1936Vtg Sensenich Wood Airplane Propeller 74fct48- Severe Wingtip Accident DamageVtg 40s Topping Mcdonnell F2h Banshee Airplane Jet Promo Display Desk Model F-2h| Vintage | United Air Lines | Hawaii Poster | Hula Girl Stan Galli | Original |Wood Airplane PropellerVintage Die Cast Aero Mini American Airlines Airplane Plane W/stand Landing GearOrig Cruver Recognition Spotter Airplane Fighterid Model British Spitfire Aug-45Phoenix Models 1:400, Airbus A380, Thai Airways, Hs-tufBig Bird 400 (like Aeroclassics) Trans World Airlines Twa Boeing 747-100 1:400Qatar Airlines Airways Pilot Flight Crew Wings Insignia BadgeThai Airways First Class Rimowa Amenity Kit - Copper, Still Sealed!Vtg 1960's Topping F8u-1 Crusader Vought Airplane Jet Promo Display Desk ModelVtg 1960s Topping F8-e Crusader Ltv Vought Airplane Jet Promo Display Desk ModelVintage Ww2 Usaaf Army Air Corps Military Aircraft K-20 Camera Case Filters BookHerpa Wings 1:500 Airbus A319 British Airways *g-euog* NewAmerican Airlines Voucher (paper) F-21 Kfir Israel Aircraft Industries Jet Fighter Desk Top Aircraft ModelSouthern Airways Airline Poster "chicago" -1960-70's Original-delta AirlineBig Bird 400 (like Aeroclassics) Eastern Airlines Boeing 747-100 1:400Western Models Air America Curtiss C-46 1:200 Diecast Model 69546Antique Ariete Sagittario Mark 2 Desk Model W/ Stand- Beautiful Polished Metal!!English Miniatures(hampshire Cast Pewter)model"lancaster(avro)"bomber&plinth/boxVintage 1960's Verkuyl Model Usaf Air Force Airplane C-54 Lockheed MilitaryThompson Trophy Bookends National Air Races Aviation Red Bull Race Reno Art DecoOrig Cruver Recognition Spotter Airplane Id Model British Blenheim Bomber Aug-42Janes All The Worlds Aircraft 1938Big Bird 400 (like Aeroclassics) American Airlines Boeing 747-100 1:400American Airlines First Jet Service Across Atlantic, Hk #538Big Bird 400 (like Aeroclassics) Trans World Airlines Twa Boeing 747-100 1:400Western Models Civil Air Transport Curtiss C-46 1:200 Diecast Model 69547British Wwii Raf / Am 6b/125 Aircraft Course & Speed Calculator Mk Iia Hta Ltd

Recent News: Aviation Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Flight museum to get £3.6 million facelift
Edinburgh Evening News, October 17th

“With new modern displays and imaginative interactive activities, visitors will gain a greater understanding and appreciation of our national aviation collection,” he said. The museum's civil and military hangars will close in November and reopen in 2016...Read more

Two local businesses come together for a special photo shoot
Salisbury Journal, October 16th

The photo shoot was to celebrate the launch of Games Room, a new contemporary menswear department within Regent Tailoring at 73 New Street. The shoot took place at Old Sarum airfield in the Aviation Collection and both companies have thanked the ...Read more

National Museum of Flight given £1.3m to transform WWII hangars
stv.tv, October 16th

"With new modern displays and imaginative interactive activities, visitors will gain a greater understanding and appreciation of our national aviation collection. We are delighted to be able to help in this transformation, safeguarding the hangars and...Read more

Vintage planes spiral at Apple Valley Airshow
Victorville Daily Press, October 11th

A total of 73 vendors including a beer garden, food and cold drink vendors and purveyors of aviation memorabilia were also present. “We're seeing a lot of people interested in airplanes and bringing their little children, which is wonderful,” said...Read more

The Pan Am Experience invites you to step back in time
RusTourismNews, October 11th

Everything from the china to the glassware is authentic with careful attention to the exquisite service delivery of the era and menu offerings of Pan Am. After dinner, you will have an opportunity to view the vast collection of airline memorabilia and...Read more

Longhorn Trailer Closing Its Doors
KFDX, October 3rd

The business also houses hundreds of photographs and aviation memorabilia that will soon be taken down. On the outside, Longhorn Trailer is just like any other business, but when you step inside, you take a trip back in time. Ridenour says, "There's...Read more

Snohomish County features airplane exhibits, including Paul Allen's Flying ...
The Oregonian - OregonLive.com, October 2nd

Arlington: The municipal airport north of Everett is a busy hub for private planes, aviation-related businesses and hobby pilots, but has not aviation collection for public view. It's main annual event is the Arlington Fly-In held every July (9 to 11...Read more

Relive the Glory Days of Flying: This Old 747 is LA's Hot New Restaurant
Yahoo Travel, September 23rd

Now, 27 years later, Toth is one of the leading aviation collectors in the country. “I can't definitely say I'm the biggest,” he says modestly. But he adds, “I've never met anyone with more than me.” Toth spent two decades buying airplane parts from...Read more