Pan Am airline memorabilia



2015-06-26 10:43:21

Pan Am airline memorabilia comprises artefacts, items and ephemera associated with the American airmail and passenger carrier Pan American World Airways.


Having folded on December 4, 1991, Pan Am airline merchandise and memorabilia has become increasingly collectable during the interceding years. Ash trays, cigarette lighters, advertising posters, air sick bags, amenity kits, baggage labels, brochures, catering items, children’s items including junior wings, safety cards, aeroplane models, tickets, timetables and items of staff uniform have all previously sold at auction.Pan Am, also known as Pan American World Airways (1927-1994) was founded as a scheduled airmail and passenger carrier operating between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba. Instantly identifiable by its blue globe logo and frequent use of the word “Clipper” in adverting material (“fly by Clipper”), the airline was one of many cultural icons of the twentieth century; its “flying boats” given special status in the American popular imagination.

At its peak, air travel epitomised notions of transatlantic glamour. The term “jet set”, meaning an international social set made up of wealthy people who travel from one fashionable place to another, was coined in the 1950s, quickly replacing the term “café set”. Pan Am airline memorabilia collectors compile and preserve artefacts of glamorous airline ephemera now belonging to a bygone age.

ABC’s 2011 series “Pan Am” borrowed between 300-400 items of genuine Pan Am airline memorabilia from foremost collector Kelley Cusack in order to establish an atmosphere of authenticity.

Collector’s Guide:

Homer Laughlin china from the 1930s and 1940s is very collectible, although the vast majority of pieces that remain on the market are damaged as the flying boats on which it was used were notoriously turbulent. The china was not initially intended for high-end use and catering items frequently got bashed around during flights. Full sized Homer Laughlin coffee cups are rare, as are flawless sets of saucers and differently sized plates.

The 1960s President pattern individual Noritake-made coffee and tea pots, egg cups and president pattern glasses are also hard to come by and can fetch up to $5000 each at auction.

Advertising posters bearing the original “clipper” slogan date from earlier in Pan Am’s history than posters bearing other slogans, and are generally worth more because of their increased age and scarcity. More modern advertising posters are worth significantly less, though are usually very visually appealing in their own right.

Uniform items are extremely popular among collectors: mint condition pilot and crew wings can sell for anything approaching $2,500, while uniform caps, gloves and jackets also do well at auction. More peculiar Pan Am airline memorabilia includes sick bags, emergency medical equipment, timetables and paper ephemera such as in-flight magazines and baggage labels.

Price Guide:

In August 2011, a 1960s Pan Am blue flight attendant hat sold for $3,605, while in March 2011 one of the Syracuse china plates sold for $257, and a Pan Am inaugural 747 flight bag sold for $153.

A lot of four Pan Am advertising posters from the 1930s was sold for $7,500 in Massachusetts by Stanton Auctions on December 6, 2008.

Slightly aslant to this, the Pan Am pilot’s uniform worn by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2003 release “Catch Me If You Can” sold for $2,600 in California, 2012, and an Edith Head sketch of the 1970s Pan Am air stewardess uniform was sold for $325 in California, 2012.


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