Archive of material related to John Moisant (1868–1910) and Alfred Moisant (1862–1929), brothers who formed the ‘Moisant International Aviators,’ a flying circus which went barnstorming around North America; John Moisant was killed in an air crash while making a preparatory flight in his attempt to win the 1910 Michelin Cup and its $4,000 prize. The archive is comprised of: a DS, TLS, and SP by John Moisant; a TLS from Alfred Moisant; several unsigned vintage gelatin silver photos; and some related ephemera.
The rarest items are those signed by John, consisting of: an untranslated DS is in French, signed “John B. Moisant,” two pages on two adjoining sheets, 8 x 10.5, August 5, 1910, filled out by Moisant as a request to attend the ‘Fetes d’Aviation de Nancy’ air meet. The untranslated TLS is in French, signed “John B. Moisant,” one page, August 5, 1910, requesting 3000 francs from Borel & Cie to participate at the meet. Especially rare is the gelatin silver 6.5 x 4.5 photo of the all-metal Moisant monoplane at Issy-les-Moulineaux, boldly signed across the top in black ink, “John B. Moisant, Paris May 15, 1910”; seven additional unsigned photos of the plane at this time are also present. This experimental aircraft was constructed of aluminum and steel, making it the first all-metal aircraft in the world. It was commissioned by Moisant at Issy-les-Moulineaux and completed in February 1910.
The untranslated TLS by Alfred Moisant is in French, signed “A. J. Moisant,” one page, Moisant International Aviators letterhead, May 15, 1911, sent to aviator Edmond Audemars, one of the Moisant troupe's aviators. Two of the unsigned photos show Audemars with fellow Moisant pilots Roland Garros and Rene Barrier, one of them on their way to New York in December 1910 and one showing them in Havana, Cuba.
Additional material includes: a gelatin silver portrait of the brothers together; four gelatin silver photos related to John Moisant's crossing of the English channel on August 17, 1910, which he made with his mechanic and his pet cat, the first-ever flight across the channel with a passenger; four postcards depicting the brothers and their plane; six gelatin silver photos of the Moisant International Aviators at New Orleans in December 1911, with two related to John Moisant’s fatal accident on December 31, one of which shows the wrecked plane; four gelatin silver photos of the Moisant International Aviators at El Paso in 1912; one gelatin silver photo of the Moisant International Aviators at Mexico City; and a newspaper page with an article about Edmond Audemars. In overall very good to fine condition.
The Moisants were a significant family in the history of aviation—in addition to these brothers, their sister Matilde was the second American woman to receive her pilot's license. John Moisant first entered aviation as a hobby in 1909, before entering Louis Bleriot's flying school in the spring of 1910. The documents offered in this archive thus date to very early in his flying career—his August 5, 1910, application for the air meet at Nancy, a time trial circuit named 'Le Circuit de l'Est' that took place from August 9 to 11, was actually denied because at that point he had completed only two flights. An incredibly rare and historically significant archive.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.