June 20, 2013 08:00 PM EDT Cincinnati


Wright Brother's Bicycle Shop, Original Envelopes Containing Drill Bits from the Shop

Lot of 27 envelopes from the Wright Bicycle Shop, ca 1892-1898, with the return address printed in top left corner Wright Brothers / Dayton, Ohio, 3.5 x 6.5 in. The Wright Brothers had the ability and very likely printed these envelopes themselves. The envelopes contain drill bits that were used first by the Wright Brothers in their Bicycle Shop, and in the construction of the following: both their bicycles, the Van Cleve and St. Clair; their kite (1899); gliders (1900, 1901, 1902); experimental gliders (1909 and 1911); and the wind tunnel and all of their "Flyers" (1903-Flyer 1, 1904-Flyer 2, 1905-Flyer 3, and the 1907-1909 Model As). Secondly, the drill bits were used by Christman in his efforts to restore the 1905 Wright Flyer, keeping the tools and dimensions as exact as possible. Each envelope is numbered, with legend markings concerning bit sizes, and some have notes, in blue, from either Orville or Wilbur Wright, concerning the description and / or condition of the drill bits. The penciled notes are most likely in Christman's hand. 

Louis P. Christman (1893-1972)

As an employee of National Cash Register, with his experience in aircraft and machine design, Louis P. Christman was called upon by prominent engineer and inventor, Colonel Edward Deeds, to undertake the restoration of the 1905 Wright Flyer, which resides at Carillon Park, Dayton, Ohio. Christman was given the opportunity to work closely with Orville Wright in order to produce an accurate set of drawings, or blueprints, for the 1900, 1901, and 1902 gliders as well as the 1903, 1904, and 1905 Wright Flyers. Since no complete drawings were ever produced by Orville and Wilbur Wright during the building and flying of the planes, it was required that Christman travel to Washington, D.C. to the Smithsonian Institution to take measurements and make drawings from the original 1903 Flyer that is displayed there and to discuss these drawings with Orville Wright.

Continued meetings and conversations between Orville Wright and Christman resulted in a very refined set of drawings of the three planes and their engines – drawings that were quite satisfactory to Orville Wright. Christman, under the direction of Colonel Edward Deeds, then began the restoration of the 1905 Flyer in 1947, on the grounds of the National Cash Register Co. This project involved not only incorporating as many original parts as could be obtained, but the designing and machining of matching parts in order to complete the aeroplane. This restoration project took Christman approximately 19 months, from the drawing stage to the completion of the frame. Final construction and assembly was completed at Carillon Historical Park, where the plane was reassembled and fabric was stretched.

Christman’s drawings are well documented in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. Knowledgeable men and women who have produced models and full-sized planes since 1948 have relied most exclusively on the “Christman Drawings.” The Smithsonian Institution has recently produced framed copies of Christman’s three view plate, with consideration in print concerning the works of Christman. The work that Christman did for Orville Wright, Dayton Wright Aeroplane, Charles F. Kettering, Inland Manufacturing, NCR Corp., Colonel Deeds, and Carillon Park is of considerable historical importance and interest.

Lots 308-319 represent a portion of items given to Christman for his work in restoring the 1905 Wright Flyer, and they have descended directly in his family.

Provenance:Descended in the Family of Louis P. Christman

Condition:The envelopes contain the dirt and grime of typical shop envelopes.

Estimate: $800 - $1,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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