10 most expensive items of The Spirit of St. Louis memorabilia
1) Mail carried on The Spirit of St. Louis - $155,000
In 1999, a letter which travelled across the Atlantic on the Spirit of St. Louis was sold at a Siegel Auctions sale for $155,000. The letter featured a five line typewritten endorsement reading “This letter was carried by Capt. Charles A. Lind-/bergh in his monoplane, Orteig/Contest, New York to Paris and/mailed by him at Paris, France”.
The letter was one of three pieces of mail that was carried by Charles Lindbergh on The Spirit of St. Louis. Prior to the 1999 sale it was last sold in 1977 for $35,000.
2) Another letter carried on the Spirit of St. Louis - $110,000
Another of the three letters carried by Lindbergh on the Spirit of St. Louis was sold by Siegel Auctions for $110,000. This letter was accompanied by a typewritten note from Lindbergh which reads:
"This letter, written in New York before my take-off for Paris, was carried in my plane the "Spirit of St. Louis" on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris. My mailing this letter from Paris indicates the successful attainment of that goal…"
3) Printed map of North Atlantic lane routes - $90,000
In June, 2005, Lindbergh’s printed map of the North Atlantic Lane Routes was sold by Christie’s for $90,000. The map was inscribed “Chart used in laying out New York to Paris route. San Diego, 1927”.
It is believed that Lindbergh thought of consulting Naval officers about his route from New York to Paris but Lindbergh claimed he was too embarrassed to do so, due to much scepticism surrounding his flight.
Therefore, he found a shop which sold every imaginable chart and purchased this map which would have provided important visual reference points and would have familiarised him with potential rescue ships, should he have needed them.
4) Letter from Lindbergh - $75,000
In November 2002, a letter from Lindbergh to James F. Prince, Treasurer of Wright Aeronautical Corporation, was sold by Swann Auction Galleries for $75,000.
The letter, dated 16 May 1927, reads, in part: "this letter from Paris, upon completion of my non-stop flight from New York to Paris, the first time this flight has been accomplished"
5) Souvenir flag from The Spirit of St. Louis - $60,000
A small American flag, featuring 48 stars, that was carried by Lindbergh on the Spirit of St. Louis during his transatlantic flight was sold by Swann Auction Galleries for $60,000 in November 2006. The flag came with a note from Lindbergh reading: "'We carried this flag from New York to Paris, May 20-21, 1927."
The flag came from the James F. Prince (Treasurer of the Wright Aeronautical Corporation) collection and is only one of three known flags to have flown on the Spirit of St. Louis. A similar flag from the Prince Collection was sold for $50,000 in 2002 at a Swann Auction Galleries sale.
6) Publishing contract
Prior to his flight, Lindbergh had signed an agreement with the New York Times to the exclusive rights to his story, if he was successful. He had also agreed to write an autobiography with a full-account of the transatlantic flight for the publisher G. P. Putnam’s Sons. The company chose journalist Carlisle MacDonald to ghost-write the book – the same journalist who had written the accounts for the New York Times, credited to Lindbergh himself.
However, Lindbergh felt MacDonald’s account was overly dramatic, and decided to write the book himself. He completed it in just three weeks and, given the title ‘We’, went on to become a worldwide best-seller. This contract, signed by both Lindbergh and MacDonald and dated June 14, 1927, granted the journalist a percentage of royalties for his assistance, despite his version being rejected by the pilot. It sold at Sotheby’s in June 2013 for $56,250.
7) Handwritten letter & fabric from The Spirit of St. Louis - $48,000
A handwritten letter and original piece of fabric from the Spirit of St. Louis were sold for $48,000.
The letter, dated December 25, 1929, was signed by Lindbergh and came from his residence at 455 East 57th Street, New York. It reads:
"Dear Bill: I am enclosing a small piece of the original fabric from the Spirit of St. Louis. This was removed when the center wing gasoline tank was taken out preparatory to the flight to Mexico City. / With best wishes, / Charles A. Lindbergh". Fabric Swatch, 1" X 2".
The letter is inscribed and signed, "Part of the original fabric from the Spirit of St. Louis. / To Bill McCracken / Sincerely, / Charles A. Lindbergh / Dec. 25, 1928".
8) Partly printed map from the first transatlantic flight - $45,000
In June 2004, a partly printed map from Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight was sold at a Sotheby’s, New York auction for $45,000.
The map featured some amendments in pencil and ink by Lindbergh. It was sold with a 2 page typed document signed by Lindbergh from 14 June 1927.
The map came from Carlisle MacDonald of G.P. Putnam’s Sons with whom Lindbergh signed a publishing contract for an account of his flight. The map was given to MacDonald by Lindbergh after the contract was signed.
9) Map used from San Diego to New York - $33,600
In June 2005, a map used by Lindbergh inscribed “used in laying out course for flight of the Spirit of St. Louis from San Diego to New York, 1927” was sold by Christie’s, New York for $33,600.
Lindbergh did not have long to prepare for his transatlantic flight following the completion of the Spirit of St. Louis in April 1927. He tested the plane on a cross-country flight from San Diego to Long Island. This map was used to plan the route for this journey.
10) Landing certificate - $32,500
In June 1993, the landing certificate for the Spirit of St. Louis was sold by Sotheby’s, New York for $32,500.
The certificate was presented to Charles Lindbergh upon arriving in Le Bourget airport, Paris, following his historic transatlantic flight. The certificate was authenticated by Charles Dollfus, conservator of the Museum of the Air, in 1949.