Lot #307
Hiram Maxim Autograph Manuscript Signed

Important early powered flight manuscript: "If we are ever able to navigate the air, it must be on the aeroplane system"
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Estimate: $1500+

Description

Important early powered flight manuscript: "If we are ever able to navigate the air, it must be on the aeroplane system"

Inventor best known for the Maxim Gun, the first portable, fully automatic machine gun (1840-1916); he also made contributions to hair-curling irons, the mousetrap, and powered flight. Autograph manuscript signed by Hiram Maxim, 37 pages, 8 x 10, no date but circa 1891. A draft of Maxim's early aviation article entitled "Aerial Navigation: The Power Required," first published in The Century Magazine in October 1891. Maxim discusses the possibility of heavier-than-air flight, noting in the margin of the first page: "Perhaps 'Navigation' is not the correct term to use in connection with a machine for traveling in the air. The French I believe have agreed on the term 'Aviation' in case they ever succeed in flying." Following observations of birds and insects, Maxim determines the forces required for flight and propulsion. He observes: "The wings of a bird in flying perform a two fold function. They form primarily an aeroplane which supports the body after the manner of a kite, and secondarily a propellor for driving the aeroplane forward. I think all scientists are agreed that if we are ever able to navigate the air, it must be on the aeroplane system, that is, the weight of the machine and passenger or passengers must be carried by a large plane driven at a high velocity through the air." For propulsion, he discounts the "unscientific" idea of flapping wings, and favors "a screw propellor, because with it, it finds a high degree of efficiency and the possibility of applying a large amount of force in a continuous manner." In overall fine condition. A fascinating, early aviation manuscript that correctly anticipates the design of modern aircraft.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Revolutionary War
  • Dates: #612 - Ended July 14, 2021