Published 16th July 2012
There are also items of national importance, including an archive of material relating to the first Transatlantic flight undertaken by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in 1919. Alcock and Brown flew a modified World War I Vickers Vimy bomber from Newfoundland, to Conemara, County Galway, Ireland. Winston Churchill presented them with the Daily Mail Prize for the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in less than 72 consecutive hours. There was also a small amount of mail carried on the flight making it the first transatlantic airmail flight.
The flight itself was a nerve-shattering affair with the pilots freezing as their in-suit heaters failed, the radio transmitter malfunctioning, so those at base didn't know if the 'plane was still in the air, terrifying turbulence with a plummet of 3,000 feet and Brown having to climb out onto a wing to remove ice which was affecting the engine.
These were true pioneers and this flight was one of the most significant in aviation history The two aviators were awarded the KBE, in honour of their achievement. The lot being offered includes correspondence, photographs and documents which came from the archive of Percy Maxwell Muller who was general manager of Vickers Aviation Works at the time and had significant involvement in the project.
Also in the auction is a three volume set of lithographic prints after drawings by David Roberts of scenes in The Holy Land, Syria, Arabia, etc. David Roberts was born in Edinburgh. He was an apprentice cobbler and later a house painter before moving towards art. His work in this field was first as a theatrical set designer and painter at The Pantheon Theatre in Edinburgh in 1816, after which he worked at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow. But soon he began to produce oil paintings, encouraged by having his work accepted at The Fine Arts Institution in Edinburgh. He later moved to London and continued his theatrical work at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, amongst others, but eventually became established as a full-time artist.
He is best-known for his drawings produced during his travels through Egypt, Syria and the Holy Land which he undertook at the behest of JMW Turner in 1838. From 1842 to 1849, he worked on the now-famous engravings which make-up the lot being offered in this sale. He financed the production of these volumes by gathering advance subscriptions, the number one subscriber being Queen Victoria herself.
Later in his life he worked extensively in Italy, was commissioned by Queen Victoria to paint the opening of The Great Exhibition in 1851, and was working his way through a series of paintings of London when he died suddenly in 1864.