Disc-shaped flying objects have been interpreted as being sporadically recorded since the Middle Ages, the first highly publicized sighting by Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947, resulted in the creation of the term by U.S. newspapers. Although Arnold never specifically used the term "flying saucer", he was quoted at the time saying the shape of the objects he saw was like a "saucer", "disc", or "pie-plate", and several years later added he had also said "the objects moved like saucers skipping across the water." (The Arnold article has a selection of newspaper quotes.) Both the terms flying saucer and flying disc were used commonly and interchangeably in the media until the early 1950s.

Arnold's sighting was followed by thousands of similar sightings across the world. Such sightings were once very common, to such an extent that "flying saucer" was a synonym for UFO through the 1960s before it began to fall out of favor. The term is still often used generically for any UFO.

More recently, the flying saucer has been largely supplanted by other alleged UFO-related vehicles, such as the black triangle. The term UFO was, in fact, invented in 1952, to try to reflect the wider diversity of shapes being seen. However, unknown saucer-like objects are still reported, such as in the widely-publicized 2006 sighting over Chicago-O'Hare airport.

Many of the alleged flying saucer photographs of the era are now believed to be hoaxes. The flying saucer is now considered largely an icon of the 1950s and of B-movies in particular, and is a popular subject in comic science fiction.

Flying Saucer value and price guide

What's your 'Flying Saucer' worth? Here are some recently sold items (USA).

Picture Title Date Sold for
China Tin Space Boat Mf878 Tin Space Toy 09/2019 $579.00
Rare Masudaya Modern Toys Tin B O 3217 10/2019 $499.99
Rare W Germany J Hoffler Tin Aeroplane 09/2019 $399.00
1960s Toy Space Astronaut Yoshia Japan 08/2019 $228.06
1950s Original Tin Japan Space Pilot See 07/2019 $124.99

See all sold items for more prices.


Do you want to know more about collectible tin toys, and want to learn about value and identification? Take a look at these books on old toys on Amazon.

Flying Saucer forum

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1 comment

Jim - November 28, 2014
I have a 1950s cragstan flying saucer with original box. It still works like new and looks like new also. Mine is different then the one on this page. Mine has red and blue lites behind the space capsule.
Yes, Cragstan made many space toys. Nice that you still have the box as well! In good shape they can fetch 300-400 USD.