17th Dec, 2020 10:00

Military & Aviation History, Medals & Militaria, Sir Barnes Wallis & Sir Winston Churchill

  Lot 68 *

Pioneer Aviation. John William Dunne (1875-1949) aviation archive

Sold for £1,550


Pioneer Aviation. An archive of letters, cards and photographs relating to the pioneering aviation designer and inventor John William Dunne (1875-1949), circa 1897-1918, consisting of approximately 16 letters and cards, and 19 various photographs, including (in chronological order):

  1. autograph letter from J.W. Dunne to his mother, dated December 15th, 1897, from Cape Town, South Africa, in which he describes Rudyard Kipling’s descriptions of the sea in Captains Courageous, and makes an early reference to the fiction of H.G. Wells (‘I think I told you that I did not care much for the “Invisible Man” but liked “The Wonderful Visit”’), plus two other similar letters to his mother from Burghersdorp, Cape Colony , dated December 14th and December 22nd 1902
  2. two drafts of a letter by J.W. Dunne to Baden Powell, dated May 1st and 2nd 1904, in which he offers to give Baden Powell “a field day at the flying machine. I cannot hope to explain to you the results of some four years work on entirely new lines in the course of an hour or two; but I can give you a rough idea of it all, and show you the final experiments. Then you can decide whether you would think it best to carry on the work at the Crystal Palace or elsewhere. I am returning the St. Louis book. I believe we could collar the grand prize easily enough if we started building at once; but there does not seem to be much else that we could annex, unless it were the small prize for a stable glider. But if we built the glider, we might as well add a motor and go in for the grand prize. I can’t say I fancy old Alexander very much. As I have not yet taken out all the patents, you will of course understand that all I tell you of my project must be treated as being in the strictest confidence, and that nothing of it is to be divulged to anyone without my written consent... I have come to you first on account of your position as President of the Aeronautical Society”
  3. autograph letter signed by H.G. Wells to J.W. Dunne, circa 1908, on Little Easton Rectory, Dunmow headed paper, “My dear Dunne, What news of your biplane? I am very keen to know. It’s been merely your luck (& your desserts) gleaning for such I was at Eastchurch. Yours ever, H.G. Wells. I like your war game but I think it’s rather too chess-like. My impression given is that it’s a game depending upon pitch, temper and all sorts of things of that sort, like cricket...”
  4. mimeographed letter from the Editor of Nature to H.G. Wells, dated November 30, 1908, in which the writer states “He thinks it be best for Mr Wells or his friend to get into communication with the Secretary of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain, whose name and address are Mr Eric S. Bruce, 40 Albany Villas, Hove, Brighton...”
  5. autograph letter signed from Mrs Catherine Wells to Miss Dunne [J.W. Dunne’s sister May], circa 1913, on Little Easton Rectory, Dunmow headed paper, “Dear Miss Dunne, Here are some of my photographs. These series pinned together must be looked at in that order, and aren’t they delightful? How has yours turned out? How is Capt. Dunne’s machine getting on? Has it been out yet? I’m getting to feel that flying isn’t such a safe thing as I felt it was when I was in Mr Ogilvy’s biplane. I met Major Hewetson at a party in London two days before he was killed, & we talked of Sheppey and Captain Dunne & others. ‘Goodbye,’ he said at the end of the party ‘Don’t lose your flying nerve’ (with four small-format photographs of H.G. Wells, J.W. Dunne and two others in a garden)
  6. typewritten letter, signed by the Marquis of Tullibardine (heir to the Duke of Atholl), on Blair Castle, Blair Atholl headed paper, addressed to Miss Dunne, Parsonage Farm, Minister, Isle of Sheppey, dated 23rd August 1913, “Dear Miss Dunne, I return you herewith the cuttings. It really is splendid, and I must heartily congratulate Dunne on his success. I wrote him a letter yesterday which he may think unkind, but privately between you and me, I am most anxious to stop him for his own sake, and for the sake of the invention 1) from flying, 2) from overworking himself over business details. The funny thing is that he has such an enormous opinion of himself on these points, and is so modest about his inventive capabilities.. The chief thing now for Dunne to do is to get his two machines ready for the War Office as quickly as possible... People are sick of the old machines, and I have reason to know that the War Office intends scrapping a very well-known machine, if they can get anything to take its place.”
  7. autograph partial letter, probably by J.W. Dunne, on Parsonage Farm, Minster, Isle of Sheppey headed paper, describing the visual and auditory effects of bombs being dropped in England during the early stages of the First World War (single folded sheet, sides numbered 5-8),

and others including two autograph letters by May Dunne to Mr Egerton on Parsonage Farm, Minster, Isle of Sheppey headed paper, a framed large format photograph of Dunne in his flying machine, circa 1913, several photographic portraits of J.W. Dunne, and three original aviation magazines (Flight, number 130, June 24, 1911, featuring an article on the Dunne monoplane, and 2 copies of Aeronautics, number 306, August 28, 1919, with an article on John William Dunne in the series Pioneers of British Aviation), all original printed wrappers, stapled as issued, together with J.W. Dunne’s walking stick with silver clasp inscribed with his name

(Quantity: small box)

John William Dunne (1875-1949) was a highly important figure in the earliest years of British attempts at flight. Around 1900, in discussion with the author and fellow aviation enthusiast H.G. Wells, Dunne studied the problems of stability and control of an airborne machine. Between 1902 and 1904 Dunne produced several test models, and in 1906 he began to develop a tail-less, swept-wing arrowhead configuration which was to become his trademark. That same year, he was assigned to the newly established Air Balloon Factory in Farnborough, where the D1 glider was built. It was secretly tested at Blair Atholl in the Scottish Highlands, although it was not at that time successful. Dunne left the Balloon Factory in 1909, and with financial investment from Lord Tullibardine of Blair Atholl, formed the Blair Atholl Aeroplane Syndicate, taking up hangar space on the Royal Aero Club’s new flying ground at Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey. A larger flying machine, constructed by Short Brothers and weighing almost 2000lbs with a 50 h.p. Green engine, was tested at Eastchurch successfully on 20th December 1910 and officially observed by Orville Wright and Griffith Brewer. In 1913 the Nieuport Company made an order for the version of the D.8 biplane (with Gnome engine), that the syndicate had built for Major A.D. Carden, Royal Flying Corps (in which he obtained his Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate in June 1912). In August 1913, Commandant Felix piloted the D.8, now fitted with an 80 h.p. Gnome engine, across the English Channel to Villacoublay, near Paris, and gave further demonstration flights in France to great acclaim. Dunne later became even better known as the author of An Experiment With Time (published in 1934), in which he claimed that in dreams we are able to foresee future personal experiences, a notion which, although widely discredited today, influenced various writers including H.G. Wells, J.B. Priestley, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Graham Greene, Nabakov and others.

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Auction: Military & Aviation History, Medals & Militaria, Sir Barnes Wallis & Sir Winston Churchill, 17th Dec, 2020

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The amount is calculated as follows:

Royalty For the portion of the Hammer Price (in Euro)

4.00% up to 50,000

3.00% between 50,000.01 and 200,000

1.00% between 200,000.01 and 350,000

0.50% between 350,000.01 and 500,000

0.25% in excess of 500,000

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Buyer's Premium :

The buyer's premium is 20%, except those lots asterisked (*) in the title for which Value Added Tax (VAT) will be added to the premium, resulting in a buyer's premium of 24% inclusive of VAT. Eligible items include manuscripts, prints, photographs, drawings, framed maps, paintings, pens and other objects which are subject to VAT at a rate of 20% on the buyer's premium as part of the Auctioneers Margin Scheme. VAT zero-rated items such as books, unframed maps and albums are not subject to VAT on the buyer's premium.

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An additional commission of 4.95% plus VAT (5.94% inclusive of VAT) on the hammer price is payable if you use the live auction bidding facility on the ATG Media website (the-saleroom.com). This charge will be added to your invoice automatically.

An additional commission of 3% plus VAT (3.6% inclusive of VAT) on the hammer is payable if you use the live auction bidding facility on the Invaluable website (invaluable.com). This charge will be added to your invoice automatically.

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UK Shipping

We are not specialist shippers. Some items, such as framed & glazed or fragile goods, will require specialist handling and buyers will be asked to use Mailboxes or RF Shipping Ltd. (details below).

For non-fragile items and items of reasonably small size, we offer an in-house packing and shipping facility for UK buyers. When possible, purchases will be sent by either Royal Mail Special Delivery or DPD overnight service. The charge for this service is variable (£15 minimum per parcel) and will be added to your invoice. Please note shipments to the Highlands and Islands may require shipment by courier and may be more expensive. Please contact us for a quote before bidding.

For larger packages and fragile goods, we recommend Mailboxes, Pack & Send or RF Shipping Ltd who will collect fully paid-for purchases from us twice a week and liaise with the buyer direct. For more information please contact Sarah Ball by telephone on +44 (0)1285 860006 or email sarah@dominicwinter.co.uk. These companies will require payment direct for their services.

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