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Author Topic:   Texas Art Embroidery space mission patches

Posts: 542
From: Fort Worth, TX, USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 05-12-2006 11:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for benguttery   Click Here to Email benguttery     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On May 9, 2006, I met with Ed Sheinberg the owner of Texas Art Embroidery (TAE) with the intent of finding out out what patches they made for space. I admit I was hoping to find samples and excellent references such as who ordered the patches and how many were made. This was not to be, but I had a pleasant talk.

I asked generally about the patches TAE had made for NASA in the 1960s and 70s. He said they made emblems for Gemini and Mercury and some early Apollo - maybe just through Apollo 13.

Sheinberg's father had a dress manufacturing business in Houston that was started in the 1930s and the embroidery company started in 1958. Stitches Magazine - an industry trade publication - noted TAE as the 3rd largest embroidery shop in 2005. They stitched about 3 million pieces in 2003 and 2004. They operate about 260 sewing heads and employ about 50 people. They do work themselves as well as contract out pieces including to overseas manufacturers. Imagine all the embroidered shirts, jackets, and hats you see around now?

The patches they made for space were both ordered by NASA and NASA contractors, Sheinberg recalls. He said he'd been visited in the last year by someone who said they were writing a book on space patches, but could not recall the fellows name. He has no space patches at the shop. He kept some of the early patches for himself which are stored safety at home.

He recalled a specific meeting with Alan Bean and others to discuss whether space was dark blue or black in color. I told Sheinberg that Bean went on to be an artist and is still greatly concerned about colors today.

We talked about patch backings. He said there are coating applied to patches to (1) help it adhere to another garment or (2) to stiffen the patch. Edges are "sewn" or "merrowed" (see the definitions of these terms below. The earliest space patches had sewn edges while modern patches typically all have merrowed edges. You can find some patches with both edge types. However, some patches may simply be second with never made it to the merrowing process.

I have taken to liberty of providing Mr. Sheinberg with images of the early Gemini patches to see if he recognizes them as those produced by him company. I will pass along what I find out here. It did not sound like the company had an archives. Although, I did ask specifically if there were records of the quantities of patches made. He answered no.

From the Glossary of Air Force Patch Collecting Terms:

Merrowed Edge - also known as overedge stitch, overlock stitch or rolled edge) - a patch having a protective "molding" of threat all around its edge, often referred to as a "rolled edge" because of its appearance, the original purpose of which was to prevent raveling. Merrowing is an overedge stitch added using a special machines made by the Merrow company. On loom-made patches, this is performed after a patch has been embroidered and cut; on multihead-made patches, it's done to the pre-made twill "blanks" before they are embroidered. The telltale sign of merrowing is the "pigtail" end that is usually either glued or taped to the back of the patch. Merrowing machines are named after their inventor, Joseph M. Merrow. Although a few patches with merrowing from the 1940s and 1950s have been observed, merrowing of military patches didn't emerge until the 1960s, didn't really "catch on" until the 1970s, and didn't become widespread until the 1980s. Merrowing now seems to be the industry standard, though quite a few are still unmerrowed. It should be noted that because twill doesn't ravel and is often treated, cut-edge patches really don't need merrowing, so nowadays it's usually added because the designer thinks it enhances the looks of the patch.

Cut Edge - also known as flat edge or Schiffli edge - type of border that is sewn on a patch then cut to shape, thus making the base material visible outside the sewn border. Cuts are most commonly made by a die, hand, a hot-edge knife or in recent times, a laser. This type of border was extremely common on patches prior to the wide-spread adoption of the merrowed edge in the 1960s. Most irregular shaped patches use a cut edge to prevent the fraying associated with a merrowed edge.

spacesoup patches
New Member


posted 05-12-2006 10:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacesoup patches   Click Here to Email spacesoup patches     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great write up Ben on your visit!

Like you, I am disappointed in the fact that examples or records do not exist of what TAE made, for who, and how many. However, it does seem to be an industry trend. Another collector has had information shared by AB emblem, but that information also seems to have come from the memory of the owner and descendents rather than a formal record of what they have produced. My understanding is that Lion Brothers has been tight with information in this regard also.

You would have thought that the historical significance and public attention given to the space program in that era would have had all industries involved with the space program archiving and saving information relating to their part in history. I guess that is the biggest disappointment from a collector's point of view.

Mr. Sheinberg's information concerning the patches made for Gemini and Mercury and early Apollo flights made sense. As you would like to have the Gemini patches identified, I would like to see some of the early Apollo patches passed to him for his review if he was willing also. There are unknown vintage Apollo 10, 11, 13, 14 mission patches listed on Gene's web site that may be their product.

Also the Apollo 11 "BIG's" patches were attributed to TAE, and it would be great to have that verification.

Just as a passing thought, it would be fantastic if one day Mr. Sheinberg chose to share pictures or scans of those patches he put in the safety of his home.

A fine job and visit Ben, thanks for sharing.

spaced out

Posts: 2779
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 10-09-2007 10:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm resurrecting this thread because when it comes to crew patches from the Gemini and Apollo eras it seems that we know very little about which company manufactured which patch.

In summary (feel free to correct me):

  • All the Gemini crew patches - unknown
  • Apollo 1 crew patch - Stylized Emblem Co.
  • Apollo 7 crew patch - unknown
  • Apollo 8 segmented Earth patch - unknown
  • Apollo 9 crew patch (and flown variant) - unknown
  • Apollo 10 Grumman crew patch - unknown
  • Apollo 10 post-flight jump suit crew patch - unknown
  • Apollo 11 BIG crew patch - Texas Art Embroidery
  • Apollo 12 crew patch - Dallas Cap and Embroidery
  • Apollo 13 crew patch - unknown
  • Apollo 14 onwards - AB Emblem
That's a whole load of unknowns.

Luckily Ben is keen to continue his excellent research at TAE which could fill in some of the gaping holes in our knowledge of who made which crew patch.

spaced out

Posts: 2779
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 02-03-2010 06:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Time to resurrect this old thread again. It's long been established that the Apollo 11 crew patch was produced by Texas Art Embroidery but it's never been clear which other Apollo patches they may have produced.

I understand that John Bisney's research for his upcoming book on space patches will probably reveal more, and I believe he already stated that the Apollo 10 'yellow continents' patch was produced by TAE. In the meantime I thought it might be interesting to try to summarize some of the other possible candidates for their patches.

Not long ago I tried to look at the details of the stitching on the reverse of the edges of many of the vintage patches. The style of this stitching can be quite distinctive and tends to be fairly consistent for each manufacturer. Looking at these details didn't answer the question of who made many of the unknown patches but in some cases there are pretty good matches.

In particular, I examined my Apollo 12 'Recovery' Crew Patch [AS12UNK2] the other day and the edge stitching is a perfect match for TAE, being almost identical to that of the Apollo 11 crew patch. It may have been produced by another manufacturer but I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was by Texas Art Embroidery.

The Apollo 9 oversize 'redless-D' patch is another good match to TAE, and it wouldn't surprise me if they were the manufacturer.

Going back slightly further the Apollo 8 crew souvenir patch and the Apollo 7 crew patch are both possible candidates. The match is not as strong as those above but they are 'definite possibilities'.

In terms of later missions I don't have any matches as yet (although I don't have examples of some of the mystery Apollo 13 patches). With AB Emblem taking over official production of crew patches from Apollo 13 onwards it may be that Texas Art Embroidery stopped producing space patches at around that point.

Anyone have any other likely TAE candidates?


Posts: 551
From: Madrid, Spain
Registered: Oct 2005

posted 02-03-2010 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KAPTEC   Click Here to Email KAPTEC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by spaced out:
Anyone have any other likely TAE candidates?
The Apollo-Soyuz Program Patch (4") with gold border and letters?

spaced out

Posts: 2779
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 07-11-2014 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Following in the shoes of patch sleuths John Bisney and Ben Guttery, collector Kenny Suit visited Ed Sheinberg yesterday to talk to him about his days at Texas Art Embroidery and dealings with NASA. Luckily for us he also got to see the sample patches from his collection too.

Thanks to Kenny's efforts we can now confirm the following Texas Art Embroidery products:

  • Gemini 8 - he had a very close match for the crew patch. My suspicion is that TAE produced a few sample patches (with some modifications) but maybe not a full run. The crew wore two but only a couple of other examples exist.
  • Gemini 9 - TAE produced the crew patch.
  • Gemini 10 - TAE produced the crew patch, in a run of 110 examples.
  • Apollo 7 - as previously noted by John, TAE produced the crew patch.
  • Apollo 8 - TAE produced the crew souvenir patch.
  • Apollo 9 - TAE patch already identified.
  • Apollo 10 - TAE patch already identified.
  • Apollo 11 - TAE BIG crew patch already identified.
  • Apollo 12 - TAE produced the crew 'recovery' patch.
The small production runs were apparently not profitable and the Apollo 12 patch was the last they produced for NASA.

I've updated some entries on my site accordingly.


Posts: 25
From: Johnson City, Tennessee USA
Registered: Nov 2013

posted 07-12-2014 09:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kenny   Click Here to Email Kenny     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to clarify something of importance.

Mr. Sheinberg was very quick to point out that Texas Art Embroidery did not actually manufacture any of these patches. TAE didn't have Schiffli machines at that time and so TAE subcontracted the actual manufacturing of the patches to other companies -- companies Mr. Sheinberg does not remember.

So collectors should probably say that these patches were "supplied by Texas Art Embroidery" rather than "manufactured by Texas Art Embroidery".

All times are CT (US)

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