When I began collecting patches in the 1970s, reproductions of missile patches did not exist. If someone wanted a patch from a particular unit and found it, they could be 100 percent certain it was an authentic, original patch from the era when the unit was active. That is no longer the case.
The first USAF missile patches to be reproduced (i.e., made after the unit was inactivated) were created in the mid-1980s by the Missile Heritage Foundation (MHF), a private association then active at Vandenberg AFB. Using official art work and descriptions obtained from the Air Force, the MHF commissioned patches for three early strategic missile wings: the 451 SMW, 702 SMW, and 704 SMW.
Another decade elapsed before other missile patches were remade by other missile veterans organizations (e.g., The Tactical Missileers). But rather than serving as fundraisers, these were created principally for former members of units who wanted a patch (or an additional patch) from the unit(s) in which they served. All of these repros can easily be distinguished from original Matador, Mace, Atlas, and Titan I patches because the originals were, with few exceptions, produced on looms (as were the early Titan II and Minuteman patches), whereas the later patches were made on multihead sewing machines and therefore have an entirely different look and feel. And then eBay made its debut in the late 1990s and before long dozens of patch sellers appeared, specializing in reproductions of both older and more recent patches. But rather than being multihead-made, nearly all of these are made on old-fashioned, single-needle sewing machines, guided by hand rather than a computer. As such, they have a distinctive and often sloppy look, making them relatively easy to spot.
Today, many patches offered on eBay are modern recreations of the originals. Sometimes they are identified as such but too often they are not. So if you're looking for a patch for your scrapbook or shadow box, the admonition caveat emptor should be taken to heart. Since all patches displayed in the AAFM Gallery are originals, they can and should be used for comparison when attempting to determine the authenticity of a patch you're considering.