Sunday, May 22, 2016

Galactitags: The must-have accessory in the event of alien abduction

Strange and silly stuff should be saved for posterity, too. It all goes toward telling the story and history of our times.

This advertisement for Galactitags is from 28 years ago. It appears in a 1988 issue1 of UFO Magazine, which was published from 1986 to 2012.

The Galactitag concept is fairly straightforward. If you are abducted by Oobagonians and/or find yourself on some sort of star trek, you might end up alone and hopelessly lost. But your Galactitag — basically a dog tag for folks roaming the nebulae — would help you get back home.

As the advertising copy states:
If you are abducted by alien beings, lost in space, and escaped ---- how could you find your way back to earth???


Military dog tags, imprinted with Voyager, Pioneer, 10 and 11's Pulsar Map, created by astronomers to tell alien space travelers earth's location in our galaxy.

IF you are wearing Galctitags™ and are abducted by alien beings, Galactitags™ will identify you with earth and help in your return by friendly beings.

Don't be caught without yours!!!
(Of course, if the aliens who find you aren't friendly, you are pretty much out of luck. Additionally, said antagonistic aliens will now know where to find Earth. They will examine the Galactitag after eating you and have a perfect map to take them to more snacks.)

The Galactitags, made of aluminum, cost $8.50, which is the equivalent of about $17 today. A T-shirt was also available, but I think that would have been less useful. What if you were abducted, but you were wearing your Buckaroo Banzai T-shirt that day, and not your Galactitags one?

According to the Trademarkia database, the Galactitag trademark was registered by John Manion Brisben Jr. of Sea Girt, New Jersey, in August 1986. The trademark is described on Justia, with a straight face, as "Military type dog tag imprinted with the pulsar map for the purpose of identifying humans lost in outer space as an inhabitant of earth."

In the late 1980s, Brisben earned his way into a far more lasting fame than an appearance in UFO Magazine or Papergreat: He was mentioned in The New York Times.2

"The Inspired, the Silly and the Useless," a November 13, 1987, article by Dennis Hevesi, highlights "about 150 of the nation's silliest people" attending Fad Fair III at the Sheraton Centre in Manhattan. The article concludes with this vignette:
Jack Brisben of Sea Girt, N.J., is selling Galactitags, "military dog tags imprinted with what is known as the Pulsar map."

The map is part of the message to inhabitants of other planets that is bolted onto the Voyager and Pioneer spacecraft. It pinpoints the location of Earth.

"I contend," Mr. Brisben said, "that if you are wearing your Galactitags and are abducted by alien beings, the tags could help return you to Earth."

Mr. Brisben expects to sell a lot of Galactitags to the other space cadets at the fair.

But wait ... there's more

I thought that would be all for this post. But then, in one final round of Internet sleuthing, I came across a mysterious YouTube video. It is titled "" and was posted by Jack Brisben in July 2011.

Galactitags is still alive and kicking, more than a quarter-century later!!3

The Galactitags website is way spiffier than that 1988 UFO Magazine advertisement. It has a short video scene of an alien abduction (complete with alarmed dog), background info on the product, a list of publicity the product has received (including the mention in The New York Times) and fan mail. Here are two samples of that mail:

  • Michael from Potstown P.A. says: Please let me know if your tags are still available. I am trying to hitch a ride off this rock and want to make sure all my friends have then, thanks.
  • Alix from ID. says: I would like a set of your tags for my girl friend. who is being abducted by aliens almost daily, her birthday is January 27th. I hope there is enough time before she's taken by some Klingons, without a map.

And, of course, Galactitags can still be purchased. They are $15 now. And you can still get T-shirts, too, for $20.

But wait ... there's even more

Now for something really special. On a whim, I contacted Jack Brisben and asked for an email interview. Jack, now 66 and still living in Sea Girt, kindly agreed. So here's a Papergreat Journalistic Exclusive:

PAPERGREAT: I have found references to Galactitags dating back as far as August 1986. When did you first have the idea for the tags, and what was your inspiration?

JACK BRISBEN: I got the idea some time in 1982. I saw a news story about someone who claimed to have been abducted by space aliens. I thought there must be some way to help. I knew about NASA's Pulsar Map on space probes, and thought if displayed on something like a dog tag it could help with the return of abductees back to Earth.

What did you need to do to take Galactitags from idea to reality? What were the obstacles, if any, along the way?

For Galactitags to be a reality I located a company that could make them in large numbers. I also had to make sure I could use the Pulsar Map that was created by Dr. Frank Drake and Dr. Carl Sagan. The map is in the public domain so it was a go.

Was there any reaction (friends, family, etc.) when you were featured in The New York Times in 1987?

The reactions were good, it was the age of the Pet Rock after all. As for the Times article, it was because of the Fad Fair that was held at the Sheraton Center in NYC that the article was written. I entered Galactitags in this Fad Fair contest, and won a booth at a trade show and media event for new product ideas. Galactitags got lots of attention, and world wide publicity. This led to a meeting with the trade minister of Japan at the Marriott Marquis in NYC. We made a deal for ten thousand tags to be sold in gift shops at the World Expo in Tokyo.4 After that Galactitags drifted in a wave of publicity for years.

Were you already a reader of UFO Magazine or is the connection there just that you were looking for the best places to advertise your product?

I was looking for a good place to sell the tags.

It seems there was a hiatus between the original marketing push for Galactitags in the late 1980s and the renewed online marketing, via When did you launch the website, and what inspired you to start selling the tags again?

After the publicity that we got from the trade show there was no need for an online presence until about ten years ago.

Are the Galactitags that you're selling now from the original batch in the 1980s? How many do you still have available?

The original batch is long gone. I still have about 50 in stock.

Are you wearing a Galactitag right now?

I have a tag with me at all times.

What are your favorite science-fiction books and movies?

The Day the Earth Stood Still (the one from 1950), 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Star Wars, Dune. That's just some of them.

1. Specifically, the advertisement is on page 44 of UFO Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 4. The cover price was $3. "UFOS ON TELEVISION" is the main headline on the cover. This magazine was part of a box lot of books and magazines that a used-book dealer was getting rid of, to purge unwanted inventory.
2. Papergreat had its own New York Times mention in August 2011.
3. There is NO WAY that I'll still be writing Papergreat in 2038, although my hope is that it will have been adapted as a Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda by then.
4. Brisben might be referring to the Expo '85, although that took place before Fad Fair III, so I'm not fully clear on the timeline.


  1. This may go on my Top 5 Favorite Papergreat Posts of All Time list!!

  2. I worked with Jack at his mundane daily job and well remember when he launched the tags. I was just digging through a box of odds and ends and found my original set that I purchased from that first batch and thought I'd do a web search. Imagine my surprise to find that they're still selling! Not such a silly idea after all.