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  Why continue to collect space patches?

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Author Topic:   Why continue to collect space patches?
New Member

Posts: 7
From: AL, USA
Registered: Jul 2013

posted 09-22-2022 10:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sportfanatic1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What led you to collect patches? Why do you continue to do so?

I’ve often considered beginning a mission patch collection, but every time I come back to there not really being any supply control and the fact that many are still being produced/could be produced at any time, even for missions that occurred decades ago. With no supply control/scarcity, I end up talking myself out of the hobby.

How do you think through this?


Posts: 3027
From: Titusville, FL
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 09-23-2022 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I began collecting mission patches in 1970 and since then have always tried to purchase them at the time of each mission in an attempt to get the most accurate version made. (Compare a 1970 Apollo 13 vs modern versions.)

In 2004, I helped design my first of 19 mission patches and in 2007 my first space flight commemorative.

I stopped collecting early this year and have begun to sell off my collection on eBay. I’ve curated the patches my two grandsons will want but everything else will be sold or donated.

It’s been great fun but all good things must end.

Paul J. Brennan

Posts: 245
From: Linden, CA
Registered: May 2019

posted 09-23-2022 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul J. Brennan   Click Here to Email Paul J. Brennan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by Sportfanatic1:
I end up talking myself out of the hobby.
It sounds like you’re looking at it purely from a financial investment.

No matter what you collect, there should be a passion for the product. That way, regardless of the perceived financial value if you end up not being able to sell items down the road, at least you’ll have something you still enjoy.

The moral of the story, buy what you like without a speculative inclination.


Posts: 809
From: Bothell, WA
Registered: Jan 2013

posted 09-23-2022 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo   Click Here to Email Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've always been a "generalist" when collecting space patches. Mercury to SpaceX and everything in between and often not in between. I strive for authenticity and period correctness in my collection.

I was just thinking the other day how difficult it has been to keep up with current spaceflight patches because I don't focus on a particular area. This means that it is a wonderful era for spaceflight with so much activity, but at the same time it bites me in the ass sometimes when I start down the path of a new line of patches (for example SpaceX ROPs patches [both coasts!]), so here I am committed to getting the whole lineage (rather than just saying "NO!") so yet another line of patches I have convinced myself I must have.

Though in the end, it is really more of a pocketbook situation than any other sort of inconvenience, because patches are wonderful mementos and there was passion and consideration put into designing every single one by someone and I really appreciate that as a patch designer myself. If I were to constrain myself I feel like I would be doing myself a disservice.


Posts: 64
From: Schererville, Indiana, united states
Registered: May 2009

posted 09-23-2022 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacemac   Click Here to Email Spacemac     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been collecting space patches since I was 9 years old (I am now 64). I have acquired over 2500 of them.

I like to learn about the mission when I get a space patch and created a spreadsheet that lists information about them. I especially like finding the rare ones.

I have them on frames on my walls and now in books because I ran out of wall space. I collect because it is a relatively inexpensive hobby and there are always new ones to find.


Posts: 95
From: Chelmsford, MA
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 09-23-2022 01:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for edorr   Click Here to Email edorr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What's the point of it? Is it a hobby? An investment? A challenge? What do you mean by a mission patch? Are you including non-crewed missions? SpaceX? Rocket Lab? Soviet/Russian missions? I've sometimes thought that specializing in those weird NROL patches would be fun. Frankly, just going to AB Emblem and buying what's available there isn't all that interesting or challenging. I think that to make collecting "fun," there needs to be some challenge.

As an example, you could say "I'm going to collect all the beta-cloth patches that were made": that would narrow it down to Apollo 7 through ASTP, but it would also include 2TV-1 and SMEAT. Not terribly challenging, but maybe enough to occupy you for a year or two. And it's not getting any easier as time passes.

Chris Spain's Crew Patches site is another way of approaching "collecting" -- I never buy anything (for my "collection") without consulting his site first.

I also like Paul's philosophy of "buy what you enjoy," But that also means not treating such purchases as an investment. My "collection" doesn't extend prior to Gemini 5, nor after ASTP; I buy a few contemporary patches just because I enjoy the design (but I don't consider those part of my "collection").

One last thought: my collection isn't limited to patches per se -- I also collect artwork associated with the patches, and frame it with the associated patch (scroll down on my Collecting page to see examples).

New Member

Posts: 7
From: AL, USA
Registered: Jul 2013

posted 09-23-2022 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sportfanatic1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All, thanks for many good comments. I definitely get keeping the idea of hobby separate from investment/speculation. It's just the extremes of scarcity that always make me hesitate. It seems that patches are either of the type that could be/are continually made without limitation or they are of the so rare variety that it is almost impossible to obtain. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

As an example, I also collect coins. I enjoy collecting Lincoln Wheat Cents. I know that a 1951 Wheatback is never going to hold significant value. I keep it because I like it, but it also helps a lot to know that there won't ever be more 1951 wheatbacks than there are right now. Even though it isn't "rare," having some capacity control makes it much more appealing to me.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 49167
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-23-2022 04:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rarity can depend on how specific you want to be when comparing like patches. Sure, the Apollo 11 patch has been in mass production since before the mission flew in 1969, but there were only a limited number produced in the style that the crew wore on their biological isolation garments, such that originals can be and are described as rare.

Or for another example, the STS-1 patch can be yours for $5 at any space museum gift shop, but if you want the version that the crew wore — the version that was never offered commercially to the public, which has four different color threads in the shuttle's plume — you are going to have to look towards eBay for secondary sales or wait for one to be listed at auction.

Even run-of-the-mill missions can have differences between vintage and modern productions. Shuttle patches dating back to the early 1980s were made using machines rarely in use today, such that their thread count and style of stitching is different than those you can buy at retail.

Of for another approach at rarity, were you only to pursue SpaceX patches (for example), you could limit your search for employee-issued patches, which were either numbered or carry a hallmark, separating them from those distributed or sold to the public.

That is all to say, there are ways to find rarity among the mission patches. It is, as someone else said, just a matter of what you like to collect.


Posts: 507
Registered: Sep 2001

posted 09-24-2022 07:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have always approached collecting to things I like, but I also try to collect items from the 60's and early 70's, the Mercury program, Apollo 8, Apollo 11, Skylab 3 as examples. Most things made during that time were never made to be collected, and today because of their limited numbers can be very collectible, even valuable (which is subjective).

My patch collecting is pretty much limited to Apollo 8 (still looking for the Texas Art Embroidery patch), Apollo 11, and Apollo recovery patches. Limiting makes it easier and I know there's a chance I still won't find everything I want, but that's what makes collecting fun.

Jim Behling

Posts: 1742
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 09-24-2022 09:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't bother with the crew missions and dealing with the inane number of versions of the same patch. I stick with the unmanned spacecraft patches. Easier to collect.


Posts: 76
From: Nashville, TN, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-29-2022 03:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for embangloy   Click Here to Email embangloy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mine was a focus collection, that started in the early 80’s, that began with the Space Shuttle Program. I also rounded my collection at that time with the previous programs. I was able to get some anomalies and errors while staying current. Some reproductions such as the post-Challenger designs are great to have. For me, what would make my collection complete, would be an STS-51D Jarvis-Walker 4 inch patch, even a reproduction would be sufficient for me.

So to the question, I will say that we continue to collect patches because whether as a whole or a specific time, we as collections have a connection to it. The astronauts are proud to wear the design for their accomplishments and we as collectors have a part of that as well.

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