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[Archive and Scrapbook of Aerial Balloonist C. W. Williams of Williams & Young]

WILLIAMS, C. W. [Aeronauts]

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Price: $4,000.00


Various: ca. 1880-1890. Folio. Ornate commercial Victorian album. 43pp. on 22 leaves, all but last both recto and verso, covered with a variety of scrap - mostly newspaper clippings. Several dozen more clippings additionally loosely laid in. Also included: several promotional broadsides and a small selection of business documents (letterhead, promotional flyers, etc.) for Williams & Young's air show, several small original sketches by Williams, a 7pp. manuscript entirely in Williams' hand entitled "Biograph of the World Famous Aeronaut C. W. Williams," plus an additional 1+p. manuscript essay also by Williams on parachuting. Scrapbook fair condition only. Spine perished. Several leaves loose, toning through, and chipping to the edges. Overall, fragile. Manuscripts also worn and a bit fragile, but entirely legible. Remainder of documents very good. (Item ID: 13906)

Though manned ballooning was pioneered in the late 18th century in Europe, it took longer to establish itself in the States. However, by the middle of the 1800s, ballooning was a popular American entertainment, featured both in circuses and other traveling shows, as well as in festivals and on its own. Here offered is an important archive of a pioneering aeronaut and a substantial record of 19th century ballooning, assembled by a prominent practitioner. Williams and Young were most active from the early 1880s through the early 1890s (when Young perished in a ballooning accident). The duo were best known for their "Parachute Jump For Life," in which Williams ascended to 5000 feet and parachuted to safety below. The duo were also purported to have the largest hot air balloon in the world at the time, some 50 feet high and 70 feet around. They worked throughout the country and on both sides of the Atlantic. The scrapbook portion of the archive covers not only the exploits of the compiler's own company, but also those of their fellow balloonists. Indeed, the clippings alone amount to an impressively comprehensive portrait of ballooning as it neared the end of its popularity (the Wright brothers first flight was 1903) - and demonstrates both Williams' love of aeronautics and his careful monitoring of his competition. Together with the manuscripts and business portions, a rare primary collection relating not only to early flight but to its business and promotion as well.


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