Jun 27, 2024 - Sale 2675

Sale 2675 - Lot 60

Price Realized: $ 1,950
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(AVIATION.) Photo archive from an early lead designer for Glenn Curtiss. 67 photographs and Real Photo postcards plus 4 letters sleeved in one binder, many of them captioned; minor to moderate wear, many with scrapbook mount remnants on verso. New York, 1913-1925 and undated

Additional Details

Benjamin Douglas Thomas (1891-1966) emigrated from England to the United States circa 1913 as design engineer for Glenn Curtiss in Hammondsport, NY. He played a major role in the development of the famed Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplane. By 1915, Thomas became chief engineer and designer of the Thomas-Morse Aircraft Company of Ithaca, NY, founded by two English brothers named Thomas who, oddly enough, were not relatives of B.D. Thomas. He later moved to California in the late 1930s. Many of these photos have extensive captions, some by Thomas and some later by relatives.

Approximately 24 of these photos are from Thomas's time with Curtiss. One shows Curtiss at the controls, and is inscribed "On Langly aeroplane built 1902, flew June 1914, G.H. Curtiss, Hammondsport, N.Y. 1914." Several show a 1 July 1914 test flight of the Curtiss flying boat "America," which Thomas designed. He can be seen in some of the photos of the floating craft, holding a rope.

Approximately 43 of the photos relate to Thomas-Morse Aircraft, including their factory, staff and planes. One shows a shed reading "Thomas School of Aviation." Some show the company's test pilot Frank H. Burnside, an important air-mail pioneer. Also included are 4 letters to or about Thomas from 1925.