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Author Topic:   STS-51L / Challenger mission patch
Voyager1975
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Posts: 188
From:
Registered: Dec 2008

posted 02-23-2009 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Voyager1975   Click Here to Email Voyager1975     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We all know the differences between the embroidery techniques due to newer machines used today and of course the older machines used when these patches and the STS-51L patch in particular were first made. However besides those embroidery changes there are two very noticeable differences in the original AB Emblem STS-51L patch and the current AB Emblem version.

First in the current version, the shade of gray used in the border or outline around the edge of the patch seems a lot darker.

Secondly, there is no longer the thin gray line that ran underneath the gold fuel trail that comes out of the shuttles main engines.

Why these changes? Especially to this particular patch?

randyc
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Posts: 641
From: Highlands Ranch, CO USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 10-11-2009 03:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randyc   Click Here to Email randyc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently purchased an STS-51L patch that does not have the McAuliffe/Jarvis tab from an individual who lives in Hawaii who told me that he bought it at an estate sale of a real estate agent who lived in Hawaii who knew the Onizuka family and was given the patch by Ellison Onizuka. The patch appears to be of high quality and the comet is made with silver thread (not sure if the 'commercial' type patches used silver thread).

So here are my questions:

  1. Were STS-51L patches made for the crew before Christa McAuliffe and Greg Jarvis were assigned?

  2. If patches were made prior to the assignment of McAuliffe and Jarvis is there a way to tell whether this is one of them and not a souvenir type patch?

  3. Are the 51-L patches without the tab 'rare'?

  4. Is there a way to tell if the tab was removed by looking at the back of the patch?

  5. If this is indeed an 'original' crew patch, what is it's value?
Let me know if you would like to see a photo of the patch.

Editor's note: Threads merged

Mike Dixon
Member

Posts: 836
From: Kew, Victoria, Australia
Registered: May 2003

posted 10-11-2009 05:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, there was a commercial version that used the silver thread.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30981
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-11-2009 06:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In 2006, Aurora Auctions offered a final design "sketch" of the STS-51L patch as signed and presented by the crew back to its artist, Ernie Reyes. Accompanying the lot were copies of seven other design variations reviewed by the crew.

According to a letter included with the sketches, the basic design was devised by Reyes, his wife and daughter on the evening of July 22, 1985.

The five prime crew members for STS-51L were named in January 1985.

McAuliffe was announced by then-Vice President George H. W. Bush as a member of the STS-51L crew on July 19, 1985, three days before Reyes began designing the patch at the request of commander Dick Scobee.

Greg Jarvis was not added to the crew until October 1985.

Without knowing when the first patches were produced but given the time line of when the crew members were assigned and the patch was designed, it doesn't seem consistent that a patch would have been made without (at least) McAuliffe included.

Therefore, I would lean toward Randy's patch having had its tab removed (or lost) rather than produced before a tab was added.

spaced out
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Posts: 2752
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 10-12-2009 02:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My guess is that following STS-51E all patches were produced as bodies with separate tabs so that any changes in payload specialists could be incorporated without having to re-make the entire run of patches.

The AB Emblem STS-51L patches are no exception, so AB examples from the time will usually have sewn-on tabs. A tabless patch from any of the 1984/5 missions is simply one that didn't have the tab attached for whatever reason and doesn't necessarily indicate a version made prior to the announcement of the extra crewmembers.

Bob M
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Posts: 1446
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 04-06-2013 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While not actually a patch collector, I have managed to acquire a number through the years, with a few that I've always been curious about their status and desirability.

These two STS-51L patches are slightly different, with the bottom patch slightly smaller than the top one.

Any info about these would be appreciated. Thanks.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Ken Havekotte
Member

Posts: 2044
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 04-06-2013 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob, the top left STS-51L patch depicted of the crew emblem design came from Cape Kennedy Medals (CKM), an associate of my firm for many years.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 09-22-2013 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just noticed that, at some point, A-B Emblem removed a star from their STS-51L souvenir patch (their version with the gray line under the yellow "swoosh").

I was looking at a patch that I had recently purchased on eBay and noticed the star was missing, I figured it was just an embroidery flaw. Another one came up on eBay this week (251344420103) which led me to suspect a batch flaw.

Then I did an image search and found this is the version currently sold by A-B Emblem on their website (and others, like thespacestore.com).

Any idea why such a subtle change was made?

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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Posts: 2618
From: Toms River, NJ
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-22-2013 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Without knowing when the first patches were produced but given the time line of when the crew members were assigned and the patch was designed, it doesn't seem consistent that a patch would have been made without (at least) McAuliffe included.

In an interesting "what if," the 28 March 85 "Space Shuttle Payload Launch Schedule and Astronaut Flight Assignments" issued by Morton Thiokol lists 51L as indeed carrying the Teacher In Space PS (no name) - but the base crew of what became 61C (Gibson-Bolden) as the 51L crew.

This was a six-person crew, although presumably a seventh would have been added. So it is conceivable, depending on when the patch was designed, for at least a basic crew patch to be made and then an apron (tab) made with the PSs.

Scobee-Smith et. al. were assigned as the 61C crew, with an RCA Payload Specialist and another PS to be named. That flight was also to have carried EASE/ACCESS.

lunarrv15
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Posts: 1316
From: Cincinnati, Ohio, Hamilton
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 11-18-2013 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunarrv15   Click Here to Email lunarrv15     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I see two STS-51L (on eBay 330923912932 and 251377131416), where one has US Space Camp packaging, where the star before the comet is missing.

I am gambling it is a rarity error patch or AB Emblem is unaware they are leaving out a star.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-18-2013 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would imagine the missing star is intentional (for what purposes, I don't know) as this is the version they sell on their own site.

lunarrv15
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Posts: 1316
From: Cincinnati, Ohio, Hamilton
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 11-19-2013 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunarrv15   Click Here to Email lunarrv15     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess classified mine then as another variance patch.

Why they change/alter the design themselves, I would like to know.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-19-2013 05:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I posted an inquiry on their website contact form. We'll see what happens.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-20-2013 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A-B Emblem responded to my inquiry and long story short, they don't have any record as to why this change occurred.

Based on packaging, it would appear that the star went away at some point after 1990. However, when they switched to their alternate STS-51L (the kind as seen currently at KSC's online store and the kind packaged for the Astronaut Hall of Fame), they had the star intact. These versions can be identified by the missing gray line under the yellow "swoosh".

It appears that A-B is producing two versions of the STS-51L patch concurrently. The "classic" style (minus the star) on their website and through other vendors such as the Space Store, and the other version (dark gray border, missing gray line under swoosh) which they currently sell to KSC and some other vendors.

Other vendors:

  • Skyforce Patches: image shows classic with star
  • Space Boosters UK: image shows classic minus star
  • Spaceflight Now store: image shows new version
  • Spacetos.com: image shows classic minus star
  • thespaceoutlet.com: image shows classic minus star - actually stocks new version
  • spaceshoponline.com (GSFC): image shows classic with star
Based on this, and assuming what they show on their web page is actually representative of the patch they ship, I don't think the version missing the star is hard to find, it's the currently available version for that patch. The real mystery continues to be "why" it went away.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30981
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-20-2013 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Liembo:
...assuming what they show on their web page is actually representative of the patch they ship
In most cases, if not all cases, it is an old image and not representative of the patch they ship. The star-less patch image just became the defacto representative of the AB Emblem STS-51L patch and hasn't been updated. The former Countdown Creations had the star-less patch also pictured, but never shipped that version.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-20-2013 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have put in inquiries to all of the above vendors to see if they can verify which version they have in stock.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-22-2013 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Based on information from A-B and my own digging around, it would appear that the photo that A-B prepared for their website as well as their vendors was distinct in the fact that it was missing the star, but it does not represent current stock (which is the version that lacks the gray line under the yellow swoosh). This photo was likely used by most online vendors because it was provided by A-B to them, but does not represent their actual stock, as Robert said.

What does that mean for the "missing star" version? I now am leaning more toward it looking more like this was a fairly limited production. Based on past and present eBay offerings, it does not come up very often, certainly less than 5% (I don't see any in the recent past or present based on my eBay search criteria).

It could be purely coincidence that A-B took a photo of one of these variations without even noticing the missing star.

Value? I am not sure what number of patches separates an "production error" from a legitimate, conscientious variation; ST3-103 "White sun" version seems to fetch a slightly higher premium, yet the STS-36 "Thout" error version does not command much of a bump.

mach3valkyrie
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Posts: 367
From: Albany, Oregon USA
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 11-22-2013 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Willabee & Ward presentation pages for the space program used AB Emblem patches and I recently bought a 51-L of theirs that had the missing star. I think there's quite a few of these missing star patches out there.

Liembo
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Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-22-2013 09:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The W&W sets use both versions, but I will say that the distribution among those sets, based on a sample from eBay current and recent pasty, indicates it's a higher percentage than the loose ones on eBay.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-01-2014 06:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's quite a bit of variation in the border coloration of the STS-51L patches. The left-most patch in this scan is the one "hybrid" from the recent eBay auction, the middle is another hybrid patch and the right is a typical souvenir version.
  • Left: Grey-blue border on main body, grey-blue tab
  • Middle: Light gray border on main body, gray-blue tab
  • Right: Dark Gray both (And note the straight line stitch to affix the tab, this is the only example I've seen using a non-zig-zag stitch)
AB Emblem is usually pretty consistent on colors over time, but this patch is a bit notorious, at least in my mind, as being particularly dynamic in color. (Another one that has quite a bit of variation is their Apollo 17 patch, which has varying shades of light blue bordering.)

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-11-2014 11:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm also suspecting that the "missing star" version is more than a simple production error.

An eBay seller listed (181580485135) an STS-51L patch with the missing star this week. I compared his patch to an example I own and they appear to be chronologically distinct versions.

The version I have has a glossy coated back with a different tab style (dark twill with a thin peelable covering). The front uses the very dark gray thread for edge embroidery and details. The recent eBay example appears appears to be a typical STS-51L souvenir version in almost all respects: light grey thread with "standard" plastic backing. The stars are also embroidered slightly different.

STS-51L missing star example from eBay:

Glossy back missing star version compared to regular STS-51L (side by side scans):

If it were a mere production error, I would expect every example to be virtually identical during the run that produced the error, but I don't find that to be the case, they were produced in different batches using different techniques for embroidery and backing materials as well as different color thread.

Cozmosis22
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Posts: 432
From: Texas * Earth
Registered: Apr 2011

posted 11-19-2014 11:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What's with this patch with the shiny silver thread interlaced in the comet but no lower tab attached? Early production or a defect? Looking at the back it doesn't appear as though there was ever a McAuliffe ~ Jarvis addition there.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Liembo
Member

Posts: 178
From: Bothell, WA, USA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 11-20-2014 12:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've seen a lot of tabless patches that bear no sign of ever having a patch attached, too. A patch with a removed tab that was sewn on usually have visible stitch "scars" along the border, or in some cases, like Swissartex, signs of where the tab was heat-sealed on... not sure what to make of them, either.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 30981
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-20-2014 04:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As noted above, the STS-51L patch was designed after Christa McAuliffe was added to the crew, so it seems unlikely that patches would have been (purposely) distributed without the tab.

As others have suggested, it may be that some number of incomplete patches were released as essentially scrap patches (we know that AB Emblem has done this in the past with at least one dealer) and have since made their way onto eBay and the collector market.

All times are CT (US)

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