Oct 24, 2019 - Sale 2521

Sale 2521 - Lot 131

Estimate: $ 300 - $ 500
(AERONAUTICS.) Smythies, John Kinnersley. A. D. 1867, 4th September. Nº 2504. Steam Bird. Letters Patent . . . for the Invention of "Carrying Passengers through the Air by a Steam Bird or Flying Steam Engine fitted with Wings flapped by the Action of Steam" [caption title]. 4 folding plates. 9 pages; lacks final blank. 4to, 275x184 mm, disbound; paper quite fragile, plates toned and separating along folds, marginal toning and chipping along edges of text leaves. sold as is. (London: George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1868)

Additional Details

Smythies (1808-92) was a British barrister who tried to develop a steam-powered ornithopter. This is the second of 5 patent specifications published from 1860 to 1884 for his invention, which apparently never progressed beyond the design stage. Jules Verne mentions him in passing in his 1886 aviation novel Robur-le-Conquérant (Robur the Conqueror). Kelly, Steam in the Air: The Application of Steam Power in Aviation during the 19th and 20th Centuries (2006), pages 45-46; Smythies, Records of the Smythies Family (1912), page 47. OCLC locates only the U. S. Air Force Academy copy.