Don Draper and the rising price of vintage AO aviator sunglasses.


Every now and then I hear people discuss the value of product placements. Some think they’re important, some don’t. Ultimately their worth depends on one’s ability to reach those customers that notice such things.

For example, the Mad Men character Don Draper’s use of Vietnam era issue HGU-4/P sunglasses – a style we recently discussed in previous post – has had a pronounced effect on their vintage market. American Optical and Welsh 12K gold filled versions of the style have been going for crazy – and I do mean crazy – prices on eBay. Check this out:

Original Don Draper style aviator sunglasses made by American Optical. 1/10 12K GF. Only $780 dollars… or make an offer.

Of course anybody can put any price on anything. But people really are paying a lot of money for these things:

American Optical 12K gf Vietnam era HGU-4/P Air Force sunglasses. Bid’s already up to $314 with 2 days and 19 hours to go.

Although the vintage market for certain aviator and shooter glasses has been strong in recent years – the better quality gold filled frames usually fetching a premium – the HGU-4/P was never considered a particularly collectible style. Hell, it’s still military issue! U.S. made mil-spec versions are currently available for under $50.

As far as I know the new mil-spec versions aren’t supposed to be especially crummier than the old ones. Not enough to explain the price difference. There’s not enough gold in a 1/10th 12 karat gold filled frame to justify the extra $300 or so vintage pairs seem to go for.

There are any number of older gold filled aviators and shooters that are inherently more interesting and desirable which apparently have a much lower current market value.

So in answer to the question we began this post with: yeah, placements matter.

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