There is an art…or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. – Douglas Adams
This auction’s collection of 45 Aviation posters is so vast, we can only give you the slightest hint of what awaits in the full catalogue. We have 20 extremely rare lithographs and aquatints from the Jacques Perier Collection of Early Aviation History, created between 1812 (!) and 1912. Plans, speculative designs, and journalistic illustrations abound. The full impact is humbling – a full century of failure before the Wright Brothers’ success – and a great testament to the credo of “never give up.”
Our auction catalogue continues with a dazzling assortment of posters from aircraft meets and competitions from 1908-1912; exciting prints from Geo Ham of the inter-war period; and airline travel posters from the 1930s to the 1960s. Here is just a taste:
This is the only known copy of the first poster in aviation history depicting an aeroplane, with the basic configurations we’d see iterated for the next century: fixed wings, narrow body, tail. Otto Lilienthal (1848- 1896) was a German pioneer of aviation known as the “flying man”: the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful flights with unpowered aeroplanes. This poster is (most likely) a one-of-a-kind significant historical artifact in the history of humans in the sky.
46 1⁄2 x 62 7⁄8 in./118 x 159.7 cm
Just six-and-a-half years after the Wright Brothers first achieved flight, this Great Aviation Week in Lyon “took place in front of one hundred thousand spectators” (Affiches d’Aviation, p. 33). The numerous biplanes and novel monoplane architectures in this image testify to the excitement, creativity and ambition of the new era. The year 1910 was notable for a proliferation of aviation firsts and failures – including the first seaplane flight, and the first experiments with airborne weaponry.
45 3⁄8 x 60 3⁄8 in./116 x 153.3 cm
It’s been 105 years exactly since these two Bleriot-style aircraft soared over the Grand Palais and the Seine, as Paris turned golden in the sunset and klieg-lights – now preserved here for posterity. This poster was featured in an exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the International Aeronautical Federation at the Air and Space Museum.
45 x 61 5⁄8 in./114.3 x 156.5 cm
An angelic Daedalus spreads his wings out in triumph before a rich, red, glowing globe traced with route maps across Europe and the Mediterranean. This was the First International Air and Navigation Show, held during the summer of 1927. It was just a couple of months after Lindbergh had made his legendary solo non-stop transcontinental flight, so the excitement of the world within reach was infused into this truly epic, mythical work of art.
19 3⁄8 x 25 1⁄2 in./50 x 64.8 cm
A thrilling journalistic depiction of Gustave Lemoine’s successful record-breaking altitude flight, ascending to 13,661 meters (44,820 feet) aboard his Potez 50 biplane. An inset image at bottom left shows Lemoine with oxygen mask and goggles; Geo Ham, who’d recently been appointed an Official Peintre de l’Air, handsigned this image, which was produced in a limited run (#66 ⁄ 360).