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  Gemini 10 patch - not quite the Crew Patch

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Author Topic:   Gemini 10 patch - not quite the Crew Patch
spaced out
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Posts: 2597
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 02-08-2010 03:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess most of you saw the recent sale on eBay of what appeared to be a Gemini 10 crew patch.

In fact I believe this is actually a different patch with subtle but distinct differences from the version worn by the crew. I've updated the Gemini 10 page of my Crew Patches site to highlight the differences as I see them.

As this was sold alongside one of the Gemini 9 patches that are very similar to the crew version it may be that both were produced by the same company.

In any case this Gemini 10 patch is a rare vintage version that's extremely close to the crew version and definitely worthy of a place in any collection.

spaced out
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Posts: 2597
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 02-09-2010 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now that I have a good scan of the Gemini 10 patch (thanks JL) I've updated the Gemini 10 page to add these images and changed my analysis of the differences slightly.

I'm still convinced this is a distinct patch from the 'crew' version, although it may have been from a separate production by the same company.

spaced out
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Posts: 2597
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 02-09-2010 03:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apparently there's a bit of resistance to the idea that this patch from eBay is more
than just an example of natural variation in a production run, so I've decided to
try to clarify some of the differences here.

First off here's side by side detailed scans of part of the front of the crew patch (left) and UNK2 patch (right):


Notable differences visible here:
  • UNK2 patch has much skinnier Agena and Gemini spacecraft and a gap behind the Agena.
  • Crew patch has upper left outline of star in thin black thread (this is consistent across all crew examples I've seen) while the UNK2 version has thick black thread all round the star.
  • Crew patch has much narrower horizontal ridges on blue background. Here you can see roughly 18 rows visible in this quadrant on the crew version compared to maybe 12 on the UNK2 version.
Below are detailed scans of an area of the backs of the crew patch (top) and UNK2 patch (bottom):


This shows that the crew patch is embroidered onto blue cheesecloth which is visible around the edges of the patch where the excess has been trimmed away. From the front this stands out very clearly as a blue edge outside the black border. This can be seen in every example of the crew patch I have seen, including the examples worn by the crew for the flight itself. This backing cloth would have been chosen to match the background color, meaning that any gaps in the background thread would only reveal blue.

In the lower part of the image you can see that the UNK2 example is embroidered onto black cheesecloth. From the front the edges of the patch are completely black with no trace of blue.

Now, although some variation in the fine detail of patches is normal, I do not believe that such a significant difference in the application of the backing thread and two different backing cloths would be present in examples of the same patch.

The patches are similar enough in appearance that they may well have been produced by the same company working from the same design but the execution is different in the two versions.

It may be that the UNK2 version is a prototype or sample produced prior to the main production run, but in fact the black backing cloth seems more like an improvement than an early version.

The edges of the UNK2 version look much neater than those of the crew version. Maybe the UNK2 version was produced as the result of a new order of patches from NASA.

Let me stress again that the UNK2 patch is vintage, rare (rarer than the crew version even), extremely interesting, and a very close match for the crew version. It's no less collectible than the 'regular' crew version.

Go4Launch
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Posts: 400
From: Bethesda, MD
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-09-2010 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm afraid I come to a different conclusion about these patches than my friend Chris. First, I want to stress that I very much respect all the detective work he has done in this case, as well as the excellent level of detail on other patches on his valuable Web site.

The variations he points out, however, could well be attributable to differences among the pre-Schiffli single-needle embroidery machines used for these patches nearly 40 years ago. Great strides have been made in recent years in patch embroidery techniques, which allow an unprecedented level of detail. To some, that's a positive advance by being able to more closely-duplicate original artwork. But as shuttle patch aficionados noticed when AB Emblem switched to its current digital machines, it also produces a tighter weave that in some ways is not as attractive (this is very subjective!). I believe this began with STS-88: the one I have of the first crew has the traditional look, while the expanded (final) crew shows the newer technique.

I mention that to offer support for my theory – that early single-needle machines had enough inherent variances to have produced these two Gemini X examples during the same original run. On Chris’ specifics, examination of a high-resolution scan of the "GT10UNK2" patch supplied to me does show evidence of blue cheesecloth, although it has been trimmed so closely it's very hard to see. I can see no signs of a black cheesecloth, but admittedly I’d need to see it in person to say for sure. Chris is focusing on small variations that I'm confident could also be turned up if this same level of scrutiny were applied to many other "early" patches, as opposed to the more obvious differences he has noted in the similar Gemini IX patches that recently surfaced.

Chris raises legitimate questions about the origin of these two patches, but that alone does not prove they are from different runs. Further, there is no evidence to support theories that GT10UNK2 may be a prototype or sample or from a "new order" as Chris speculates. Of course, as we all know, it's impossible to prove a negative -- that something didn't happen. I do admit I cannot prove that they did come from the same run -- but I am just not persuaded based on these small variances they did not.

I agree with Chris's statement that "The patches are similar enough in appearance that they may well have been produced by the same company working from the same design but the execution is different in the two versions." Indeed, I can confirm that the "original" Gemini X patches were produced for NASA by Texas Art Embroidery. It's important to recognize that these two examples have much, much more in common than they have differences. In fact, they have very similar, distinctive patterns that can be clearly seen in both. It would be virtually impossible for different firms to have produced patches so otherwise identical; I again submit the execution variances are attributable to the method used to produce them or possibly even differences between machines.

In the interest of full disclosure, the owner of GT10UNK2 is a close friend, although please be assured my analysis is not meant to reassure him he has one from the original run; like Chris, I am also devoted to the most accurate identification of Gemini patches. For example, I found his observations on the Gemini IX variants, as previously noted, as quite notable.

cS members are certainly free to reach their own conclusions and disagree with my comments; I only offer them as a counterpoint to Chris' position. Again, I have great respect for Chris and appreciate all he has done in this field, but in this instance, I do not find his conclusion persuasive.

spaced out
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Posts: 2597
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 02-10-2010 02:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can see I need to be more persuasive...

I agree that to say for sure you'd need to see the patch in person but from the scans I've seen it seems pretty clear that this patch is embroidered on black cheesecloth. (And I know I'm going to sound pretty silly in retrospect if better images suddenly show clear evidence of blue cheesecloth!)

I've put a few extracts below that I believe show small but significant areas of black cheesecloth exposed at the edges from the reverse. The cloth between the white threads appears to be black, and from the front the black color in the same areas is quite clear.

With this kind of trimmed patch traces of the cheesecloth backing are nearly always visible at the extreme edges of the patch (unless an overlocked border is applied over the cut edge). Take a look at the edge of the Lion Brothers Apollo 7 patches and you'll see pronounced blue traces on the edge of the blue version and purple on the edge of the purple version. Look at all other examples of the Gemini 10 crew patch that have surfaced to date and the blue edging is always visible.

Apart from the backing cloth - although I don't know the technical details of the machinery I'm still not convinced that a single production run could produce rows of blue background thread consistently 50% wider in one patch than in all other examples.

spaced out
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Posts: 2597
From: Paris, France
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 02-11-2010 11:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd like to put some more evidence before the collectSPACE Community Court if I may.

I've gathered together images of all the examples of the Gemini 10 crew patch I can find - 9 patches in total, of which the majority are from John Young's collection,
including the patch he wore on his spacesuit during the mission itself.

Below I've posted an identity parade of closeup pictures showing small areas of each patch that show characteristic traits that I believe show a marked difference between the GT10UNK2 patch and all previously identified crew patches.

Let's start with the pattern of stitching in the blue background thread, where the
horizontal lines of fill stitching are visible as ridges. This is not always easy to see in photos or scans of the fronts, but when the back of the patches are shown it's more clear. The images below show the backs of three crew patches alongside the GT10UNK2 patch. The rows on the latter are about 50% wider (and spaced out accordingly) than on the crew version, a difference that I don't believe could be produced by an embroidery machine from the same pattern.

Patch identities left to right: JY flown (HA Apr 2009), JY flown (HA Oct 2009), Ben Guttery, GT10UNK2

Let's move on to the edges. All nine crew patch examples I could find show distinct
blue edging all the way round the patches where the blue cheesecloth has been trimmed away. I believe that the GT10UNK2 patch was embroidered onto black cheesecloth (as I indicated in my previous post) which leaves the edges looking clean and black all the way round. I think you'll be able to spot this patch in the line-up below.

Another distintive feature I mentioned was the black thread along the upper left side of the lower right yellow star. On the GT10UNK2 patch the border of this star is uniformly thick on all sides. On all nine crew patches I could find the upper left border of the star is a thin line of thread. Can you spot the odd one out below?

Finally, I mentioned that the spaceships in the GT10UNK2 patch were markedly skinnier than in the crew patch. Below are the nine crew patch examples I could find along with GT10UNK2. Take a look at the Agena spacecraft in particular and see if you can spot the odd one out.

Patch identities in last three images - Top row (left to right): Young's GT10 spacesuit patch, JY flown (HA Apr 2009), JY unflown (HA Apr 2009), JY flown (HA Oct 2009), JY flown (HA Apr 2010)

Lower row (left to right): Crew patch from S66-41532, unflown (HA Sep 2007), Bill Hunt, Ben Guttery, GT10UNK2

In these images you can see plenty of natural variation in fine detail between
patches produced at the same time in the same production run but the crew patch examples were clearly all produced from the same pattern.

The GT10UNK2 shows differences that to me indicate that it was not produced using the same pattern as the known crew patch examples. The overall design was the same but the pattern/execution was different and a different backing cloth was used.

andrewcli
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Posts: 328
From: La Jolla, CA, USA
Registered: Jul 2007

posted 02-11-2010 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcli   Click Here to Email andrewcli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chris, after sending you an email yesterday, I tend to agree with you that there were two different runs. Looking at the patches that were sold by HA over the past year and a half, version 1 is the one associated with the astronauts, or should I say John Young. Additionally, the edges are different, on version 1, it appears that the edges were cut afterwards and the blue cheese cloth is clearly visible. I'm sure the technician didn't want to cut too close to the black border or else the threads would begin to fall apart. In version 2, there is no overhang and it looks like the stitching is "wrapping" around the edge of the patch. It would be interesting if JL can provide you a photo taken at the edges and to see if it has a black or light blue cheese cloth backing. Finally, it appears that version 2 is slightly misshaped around the right boarder compared to the other 9 patches. I honestly don't think this is a variability within 1 machine/run.

Again, I believe that both are vintage patches, but to me there appears to be two different runs. It would be interesting to ask Mike Collins in the upcoming signing event whether he can pull out some of his own Gemini X crew patches.

Who knows, maybe the 2nd version was the first one that came out and the ones that we see in John Young's collection are souvenir patches. In either case, one version should not detract from the other.

I am no means an expert in this area and I have the highest regard for both Chris and John.

Go4Launch
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Posts: 400
From: Bethesda, MD
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-11-2010 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chris certainly makes a legitimate case that at minimum different machines may have been used to produce these patches -- but that's as far as this collector is willing to go. I don't see any evidence here, for example, they could not have been produced even simultaneously as part of one production run (how could any of us really know?) by Texas Art. I do agree that it may well have been the luck of the draw that the ones the crew wore came from one batch or the other.

I suppose it comes down to whether these variations really constitute separate versions. For the "extreme" patch collector, I can understand how they might be so considered. Again, I appreciate Chris' efforts.

I'll provide one more reference point -- Texas Art sold a total of 110 Gemini X patches to NASA. I wonder how many are still around?

andrewcli
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Posts: 328
From: La Jolla, CA, USA
Registered: Jul 2007

posted 02-11-2010 05:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcli   Click Here to Email andrewcli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John, I remember seeing a B/W photograph somewhere on the web showing a machine that was loaded with a large roll of backing material and a row of patches being made, horizontally, and next to the embroidery machine there was a console that held the template of the patch being made. Is this an example of pre-Schiffli single-needle embroidery machine or a multiple needle high capacity machine? It would be interesting to know what the capacity was for a single needle machine and the patch to patch variability compared to a multi-needle machine and whether or not after cutting the patches out of the cheesecloth, further work may have been done by hand to reinforce the edges of the patch in the case of version 2.

I also believe our terminology of "runs or batches" is different and maybe we should clarify if different machines were used at the same time to produce the 110 patches.

Regardless of the difference of opinion, I am very much looking forward in reading your book. It looks like you've put in a lot of heart and effort in this endeavor and I thank you for sharing your work with us.

Go4Launch
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Posts: 400
From: Bethesda, MD
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-11-2010 08:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Andrew, hard to say without seeing the photo. It's hard enough trying to be a patch "expert" without adding embroidery expert to my resume! If you do a Google search for "Schiffli" you'll pull up a fair amount of information. Texas Art switched to a subcontractor with Schiffli machines for their Apollo patches.

andrewcli
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Posts: 328
From: La Jolla, CA, USA
Registered: Jul 2007

posted 02-11-2010 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcli   Click Here to Email andrewcli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For what it's worth, on page 207 in Russell Still's 3rd ed. of Relics of the Space Race, there is pic of all the Gemini patches and an inset of a larger pic of Gemini X patch. It's the 1st version and shows the outline of the blue cheese cloth.

On page 82 in the Novaspace 2008 auction catalogue, Lot 407 is the Gemini X patch from Michael Collins, again the 1st version, although it's upside down.

By Chris' definition, version 1, which was worn by the Gemini X crew, both spacesuits and jumpsuits, should be considered the crew patch and the 2nd version is either a variant from a different machine, prototype, or a souvenir patch given to NASA/astronauts/employees during that time period.

spaced out
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Posts: 2597
From: Paris, France
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posted 02-12-2010 02:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think in the end I'll include this patch as a crew patch variant, as I did with the Apollo 9 crew patch.

As far as I can see the Apollo 9 crew patches are a very similar case. The Apollo 9 crew patch variants 1 and 2 appear to have been made by the same company and are extremely similar in appearance but there are distinct and consistent differences in the design which indicate that they were produced from different patterns.

In the case of the Apollo 9 patch we've seen a mix of both variants having been carried as souvenirs on the flight itself and used in official presentations produced at the time of the flight.

So far with Gemini 10 we have only seen one example of this particular variant versus 10+ examples of the other, but who knows how the various patches were distributed?

I think at least I've made the differences clear in the posts above. When any new Gemini 10 patches appear it should be easy to see which variant they are by comparing the features above.

benguttery
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From: Fort Worth, TX, USA
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posted 02-12-2010 05:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for benguttery   Click Here to Email benguttery     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I got the clear impression when talking with Ed Scheinburg of Texas Art Embroidery (TAE) about the Gemini patches that they were not of particularly high quality. Although, TAE may have sold these, I don't think they made them. He made a clear reference to them being made by a subcontractor and they weren't of great quality, but were what was specified. When I think of lesser quality patches, I automatically think of a large range of variants. These are not great quality patches, but all appear to be the real deal.

Go4Launch
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Posts: 400
From: Bethesda, MD
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 02-12-2010 08:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ben, actually, Eddie told me he thought TAE did make these, but turned to a subcontractor for some of the early Apollo patches. I will say his memory of all this was a little imprecise; but he seemed pretty sure his company manufactured the Gemini X patches. The paperwork unfortunately was long-gone.

All times are CT (US)

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