Remarkable Wright brothers posters come up for auction.
This rare poster from 1909 is expected to fetch between $15,000 and $20,000. Image: Swann Auction Galleries.
Things were going well for the Wright brothers in early 1909, following their first public flights in America and Europe. The U.S. Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and the Aero Club of America all wanted to award them medals, to be presented at the “Wright Brothers’ Home Day Celebration” in Dayton, Ohio, on June 17-18.
The Wrights, though, wanted none of it.
The inventors found the festivities a waste of time, writes Tom Crouch in his 1989 book The Bishop’s Boys. “The Dayton presentation has been made the excuse for an elaborate carnival and advertisement of the city under the guise of being an honor to us,” Wilbur wrote to Octave Chanute on June 6. “As it was done against our known wishes, we are not as appreciative as we might be.”
“The great carnival,” writes Crouch, “included receptions, spectacular parades, band concerts, and fireworks featuring pyrotechnic portraits of Wilbur and Orville, intertwined with the flag, eight feet tall…. A gigantic ‘living flag,’ composed of schoolchildren dressed in red, white, and blue, topped off the festivities ...