Heritage Auctions of Dallas, the company that conducted the sale, had valued the cap at $80,000 or more. The buyer wished to remain anonymous.
The brown leather cap with beige trim had belonged to a Minnesota family since 1929. The previous owner, Arthur Twiggs, said his mother, Elinor B. Twiggs, was at the Cleveland terminus of the 1929 Women’s National Air Derby—the all-female cross-country air race that would be tagged the “Powder Puff Derby” by humorist Will Rogers. Earhart was one of the pilots in the race, and she placed third overall.
Elinor Twiggs and her friends ran onto the field at the terminus to greet the pilots as they landed. A “young man” presented Elinor Twiggs with the helmet, saying he had found it on the ground near Earhart’s Lockheed Vega. “The name A Earhart was on the inside the cap…The cap remain[ed] in our family as part of my mother’s possessions,” Arthur Twiggs said in a letter intended to authenticate the cap.
Heritage Auctions said the cap matches one that can be clearly seen in multiple photos of Earhart taken days before she concluded a trans-Atlantic flight in a Fokker F.VIII flown by Wilmer Stultz and Lou Gordon.
The handwritten name “remains wonderfully bold, and the leather of the sleek cap still smooth and supple as it approaches its centennial,” Heritage Auctions wrote in the auction listing. “An inch-long tear just below the left ear communications pocket is the only condition issue worthy of note.”