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Apollo 15

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When they stepped out of the recovery helicopter onto the deck of the U.S.S. Okinawa the Apollo 15 crew were wearing blue jumpsuits with an embroidered mission patch attached.

The detail of these patches is clearly visible in the top row of photos on the right, taken during the welcoming ceremony.

Later the same day, at a meal on the ship, the crew had changed into a different set of flight suits and, as can be seen in the detailed images on the right, the patches on these suits seem to have a different appearance. In reality, this appearance is just due to the lighting conditions under which the photographs were taken.

The photographic evidence (with thanks to J.L. Pickering for providing high-res scans) shows that the patch worn by the Apollo 15 crew on their post-flight jump suits is almost certainly the regular AB Emblem mission patch.

Since this patch is not particularly rare it doesn't really qualify as a "crew patch" for the collector, although it certainly earns the bare back vintage AB Emblem patch a place in any significant collection.

The 'official' Crew Patch for Apollo 15 has always been considered by collectors to be the one made by AB Emblem in which the "XV" is embroidered in silver thread instead of black. This version was only supplied to NASA for use in official presentations [1] and to the crew.

An even smaller number of patches were produced with gold thread instead of silver. It seems likely that these were only given to the crew. Both the silver and gold thread versions of this patch are extremely rare.

The Crew Patches

Patch id:

Apollo 15 'Silver XV' Crew Patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? Yes, examples of this patch were flown as souvenirs on the mission[2].
Manufacturer: AB Emblem.
Distribution: Produced exclusively for NASA and the crew.
Dimensions: 4" / 101mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed border with 'tail'.
Scarcity: Extremely rare.
Value: An example sold recently for $1,000[2].
Notes:

The Crew Patch has the "XV" in the background executed in silver thread. It also has a hallmark between the blue arrow and the "W" of Worden - a black stylized "E" for Italian designer Emilio Pucci who created the Apollo XV emblem.

A note from Dave Scott to Stan (presumably the person creating the crew patch) reads ' The "E" to be included in the surface of the design is formed thus :' followed by a drawing of the stylized "E" of Emilio Pucci. The lot also came with a copy of a letter from Pucci to Scott, the details of which are sadly not included in the listing from the Aurora Galleries Spring 2006 auction.

Patch id:

Apollo 15 'Gold XV' Crew Patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? Yes, examples of this patch were flown as souvenirs on the mission[3].
Manufacturer: AB Emblem.
Distribution: Produced in very small numbers exclusively for the crew.
Dimensions: 4" / 101mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed border with 'tail'.
Scarcity: Extremely rare.
Value: Unknown.
Notes: This version of the Apollo 15 Crew Patch has the "XV" executed in gold thread, and has the same stylized "E" hallmark as the silver version, but on this patch it is inverted and positioned to the lower right of the "XV".

Other Embroidered Mission Patches

Patch id:

AB Emblem patch

Worn by crew? Yes. This was the patch worn by the crew on their jump suits at recovery time.
Flown? Yes[4]
Manufacturer: AB Emblem
Distribution: Sold as souvenirs.
Dimensions: 4" / 101mm
Type: Fully embroidered . Merrowed edge with 'tail'.
Scarcity: Uncommon in bare back form.
Value: Bare cloth back examples sell for maybe $5-15.
Notes: The standard AB Emblem patch is the one worn by the crew on their post-flight recovery suits but because it is not particularly rare it is not really considered as a Crew Patch. The AB Emblem patch was also used by NASA on the certificates of appreciation distributed to employees after the mission.

Although the vast majority of patches flown on Apollo 15 are the silver or gold 'crew' versions, Dave Scott sold an example of the regular AB Elbem patch at auction in 2015 which was described as flown to lunar orbit on Apollo 15[4].

Patch id:

Lion Brothers patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Lion Brothers
Distribution: Was available commercially.
Dimensions: 4" / 101mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge without 'tail' (selvedged).
Scarcity: Scarce.
Value: Examples sell for around $15-30.
Notes:

The Lion Brothers patch has the "XV" in the background embroidered in grey thread but has a distinctive radial pattern to the thread of the white outer area which distinguishes it from the Crew Patch. It also has the number "15" embroidered upside down in the grey background above the "D" of "WORDEN" as a hallmark.

A striking variant exists which has gold thread in the border, a thicker red internal border, and the "XV" in dark thread. This may be a prototype version as I've only seen two examples to date.

In addition, a rare plastic backed prototype version of the standard Lion Brothers patch exists.

Patch id:

AB Emblem "Kirk Edge" patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: AB Emblem
Distribution: Unknown.
Dimensions: 4" / 101mm
Type: Fully embroidered . Merrowed edge with 'tail'.
Scarcity: Rare.
Value: Unknown[7].
Notes: This appears to be an AB Emblem patch where the outer border has been executed in silver or grey thread instead of the usual blue.

Although I had originally suspected a manufacturing error as the origin of these patches it seems almost certain that these are actually "Kirk Edge" patches - unfinished factory reject patches acquired by the late Bob Kirk to which he added merrowed borders of a distinctly different color to the original design.

The patch shown above is typical of a factory reject as the design is distinctly offset within the round patch backing leaving a broader outer border on the upper right side. This fits perfectly with the border having been added by Kirk. These patches therefore have little value except as curiosities.

Patch id:

[AS15UNK1]

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Unknown but likely Cape Kennedy Medals
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: 4" / 101mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge without 'tail' (selvedged).
Scarcity: Uncommon.
Value: Examples sold recently for $10 to $46 [5]
Notes: This vintage bare cloth back patch from an unknown manufacturer (most likely Cape Kennedy Medals) has a distinctive black border to the white shape in the center of the patch. The detail of the border stitching implies this is very likely from the same manufacturer as AS14UNK1.
Patch id:

[AS15UNK2]

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Unknown
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: 4" / 102mm
Type: Partially embroidered on white twill. Merrowed edge without 'tail' (selvedged)
Scarcity: Uncommon.
Value: Examples sold recently for up to $81[6]
Notes: This vintage bare cloth back patch from an unknown manufacturer has a very broad border (in unembroidered white twill cloth) and a very plain lunar surface.
Patch id:

Space Spin-Off Ltd. patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Space Spin-Off Ltd.
Distribution: UK mail-in offer
Dimensions: 3¾" / 97mm
Type: Partially embroidered on white cloth. Stitched border, cut edge.
Scarcity: Rare
Value: An example sold recently for $49[8]
Notes: This patch was offered to readers of Look-in magazine and Countdown magazine in the UK in 1972, and was part of a set manufactured by Space Spin-Off Ltd.

The design appears to be based on AS15UNK1 rather than the AB Emblem patch, but is executed on thin white cloth (not twill) with a cut edge.

Patch id:

[AS15UNK3] Modern patch

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Unknown
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: 4" / 102mm
Type: Fully embroidered. Merrowed edge without 'tail' (selvedged)
Scarcity: Scarce
Value: Unknown.
Notes: This mystery patch from an unknown manufacturer has a bare cloth back (with selvedged border) but the fill style visible on the white border area and grey background area has a distinctly modern look to it. My example certainly looks old but this may simply be due to previous mounting and the heavy discoloration present on this particular patch. I suspect that a cleaner example might show that this is actually a fairly modern reproduction, but this is still an interesting patch.
UPDATE: The discovery of a set of identical patches with plastic coatings on the reverse confirms that this is in fact a modern design, probably by Cape Kennedy Medals. Despite this being a modern patch I am keeping the entry here in case other examples without visible coatings on the reverse are out there.
Patch id:

Oversize patch [AS15UNK4]

Worn by crew? No.
Flown? No.
Manufacturer: Likely GEMSCO.
Distribution: Unknown
Dimensions: 5" / 127mm
Type: Partially embroidered on white twill. Merrowed edge.
Scarcity: Rare.
Value: An example sold recently for $75[9]
Notes: This unusual oversize vintage Apollo 15 patch measures 5" across and is also missing the crew names at the bottom. It appears to be part of a set of oversize patches without crew names which includes Apollo 14, 15 and 16, and since the Apollo 14 example was seen on a GEMSCO card they are likely the manufacturers of the whole set, although Hilborn Hamburger remain a possibility.

3" Embroidered Mission Patches

Footnotes

[1] Silver thread Apollo XV patches were mounted alongside mission flown flags on presentations produced with an unknown number of US flags (e.g. this example on eBay) and with the flags of approximately 136 nations (e.g. this example from Sweden). I also believe that for each country a second presentation was prepared 'just in case', implying that upwards of 300 of these silver thread patches may have been used in this context.

[2] Examples of Silver VX Crew Patch sales:
    Heritage Apr 21, 2010 auction lot 41150 sold at $3,346 [FLOWN example from Dave Scott]
    eBay item no. 230710859216 sold Dec 11, 2011 at $600 [with other AB patches]
    Bonhams Space Auction Lot 242 Mar 25, 2013 at $10,625 [FLOWN to lunar surface by Scott]
    RRAuction Lot 596 May 23, 2013 at $9124.58 [FLOWN to lunar surface by Scott]
    eBay item no. 261644774896 sold Nov 6, 2014 at $164.80 [some soiling]
    RRAuction Lot 596 Dec 10, 2014 at $7950.25 [FLOWN to lunar surface by Scott]
    RRAuction Lot 469 Apr 15, 2015 at $7227.50 [FLOWN to lunar surface by Scott]
    RRAuction Lot 262 Apr 28, 2015 at UNSOLD [FLOWN to lunar orbit by Scott]
    eBay item no. 291660054012 sold Jan 21, 2016 at $999.95
    Farthest Reaches silver thread crew patch from the original "Proof Set" from Al Worden, sold Feb 2016 at $3,500.
    RR Auction lot 6508 Apr 21, 2016 sold at $9187.50 [FLOWN to lunar surface by Scott]
    RR Auction lot 489 Jun 15, 2016 UNSOLD [FLOWN to lunar orbit by Scott]
    RR Auction lot 6373 Oct 20, 2016 sold at $4947.78 [FLOWN to lunar surface by Scott]
    RRAuction Lot 8341 Apr 20, 2017 at $3,705.63 [FLOWN to lunar orbit by Scott]

[3] Examples of Gold VX Crew Patch sales:
    Farthest Reaches Gold XV Crew Patch on sale at $5,000 [FLOWN example from Al Worden]

[4] Examples of flown AB Emblem patch sales:
    RRAuction lot no. 9404 sold Oct 22, 2015 at $3024.53
    RRAuction Lot no. 461 Jan 13, 2016 at $3185 (FLOWN by Scott)

[5] Examples of AS15UNK1 patch sales:
    eBay item no. 280826182410 sold Feb 19, 2012 at $45.99
    eBay item no. 200730143544 sold Mar 25, 2012 at $32
    eBay item no. 130707245878 sold Jun 9, 2012 at $20.50
    eBay item no. 310405215623 sold Jun 9, 2012 at $9.99
    eBay item no. 221065764421 sold Jul 13, 2012 at $13.01
    eBay item no. 181002767809 sold Oct 25, 2012 at $15.50
    eBay item no. 271080452718 sold Oct 27, 2012 at $9.99
    eBay item no. 271080447881 sold Oct 27, 2012 at $9.99
    eBay item no. 200878638962 sold Jan 15, 2013 at $8.99
    eBay item no. 140929242313 sold Mar 17, 2013 at $9.95
    eBay item no. 130897433273 sold May 5, 2013 at $23.49
    eBay item no. 111061277347 sold May 5, 2013 at $49.99
    eBay item no. 261282583107 sold Sep 15, 2013 at $20
    eBay item no. 151127332516 sold Sep 28, 2013 at $20
    eBay item no. 141158226182 sold Jan 12, 2014 at $9.95
    eBay item no. 351134687246 sold Aug 17, 2014 at $9.50
    eBay item no. 111486947108 sold Oct 23, 2014 at $9.38
    eBay item no. 161557941558 sold Jan 17, 2015 at $10.45
    eBay item no. 201263764527 sold Jan 18, 2015 at $9.95
    eBay item no. 371358580116 sold Jun 28, 2015 at $12.52
    eBay item no. 371365689892 sold Jul 5, 2015 at $10.49
    eBay item no. 252045181703 sold Aug 4, 2015 at $11.99
    eBay item no. 371413970485 sold Aug 23, 2015 at $8.49
    eBay item no. 141777578381 sold Sep 27, 2015 at $9.95
    eBay item no. 252172438776 sold Nov 22, 2015 at $13.50
    eBay item no. 272020589460 sold Jan 21, 2016 at $7

[6] Examples of AS15UNK2 patch sales:
    eBay item no. 170693867822 sold Sep 11, 2011 at $42.55
    eBay item no. 180791584383 sold Jan 23, 2012 at $29.99
    eBay item no. 131091471565 sold Jan 19, 2014 at $17.30
    eBay item no. 361284083763 sold May 6, 2015 at $81.00

[7] Examples of AB Emblem "Kirk Edge" patch sales:
    eBay item no. 141372982939 sold Aug 17, 2014 at $45

[8] Examples of Space Spinoff patch sales:
    eBay item no. 121425149532 sold Sep 7, 2014 at $49

[9] Examples of oversize AS15UNK4 patch sales:
    eBay item no. 251685549306 sold Oct 27, 2014 at $74.80

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