Lot 540: Gutzon Borglum

RR Auction

RR Auction

2015-08-21 10:52:30

Lot 540: TLS, two pages, 7.25 x 10.5, personal letterhead, April 15, 1931. Interesting letter to Assistant Postmaster General W. Irving Glover. In part: "Your interesting and pertinent statement before the Mechanical Engineers yesterday will do more to awaken the stupid apathy toward the most needed phase of aeronautic mechanism than anything that has been said in twenty years. The colossal blundering covering twenty years, wasting millions, has been mainly due to foolish reproductions of what the Wright Brothers and their successors gave us. To come to the matter of your statement, you say, 'A million or five million would be a small sum as compared to the value of a safe plane.' What you mean, I am sure, is a plane that will ride the storms and meet the distress of sudden inclement conditions independent of a dead motor, and come to earth with a fair percentage of safety to life…A plane is not necessarily in danger in the air, the danger occurs when the plane is incapable of righting itself, and its present structure operates against righting itself. The plane…is unstable and a highly dangerous mechanism, and can land safely only by the most fortunate conditions in the hands of a master pilot…A dead plane with its power gone must come to earth right side up and make a fairly safe landing. That is not only possible, but I have tested it out on small models, flown through air from powerful fans and subjected these models to most violent conditions for model tests…Unfortunately, these mechanical changes I'm told are not patentable and should be produced in secret…Fortunately there is no need of departing from the present and general plane design, but apply radical reconstruction of air foil and fuselage to the present machine.…There may be some suggestions that you will be able to make that would assist in the quick development and the saving of lives, which will naturally result from a new safely constructed plane." In fine condition, with a rusty paperclip impression to the upper left and a horizontal mailing fold passing through the signature.Borglum was an early aviation enthusiast and knew the Wright Brothers personally, though he was not a pilot himself. He eventually considered himself an expert in aircraft design and filed patent applications for parts of his own design, although none were actually approved. One of his more unusual sculptures is 'Aviator,' a twelve-foot high bronze resembling Icarus that he completed in 1919 to honor James R. McConnell, a pilot killed in action during World War I. A simply fascinating letter revealing a lesser-known side of the monumental sculptor. RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460 Wednesday, 16th September 2015 Estimate: $600-800
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