AVIATION: THE CODY ARCHIVE.
CODY, SAMUEL FRANKLIN. 1867-1913. AN EXPANSIVE ARCHIVE OF MATERIAL DOCUMENTING THE MANLIFTING KITE EXPERIMENTS OF AVIATION PIONEER SAMUEL F. CODY.
Born Samuel Franklin Cowdery in Davenport, Iowa, at age fifteen Cody joined a traveling circus, changing his last name in emulation of one of his heroes (later to become a friend), Buffalo Bill Cody. He left for England in 1890 with his wife Maud, where the two began performing a trick shooting act in music halls. Soon after Cody began traveling and performing in Europe with a new companion, Lela, returning to England with her and her two sons in 1896, this time with a full Wild West show.
As attested to in one of his journals in the present archive, Cody first began experimenting with kites in 1892, but was forced to postpone further work when a fire at the Opera House in St. Helen's, Lancashire destroyed all of his theatrical effects, leaving him in dire financial straits. Resuming his experiments in 1900, by 1901 he had patented a kite system capable of lifting a man, and in 1903 he sold a set of four kites to the Admiralty. At the time, balloons were in wide military and meteorological use, but were severely limited: they could only be used in light winds, and had to be accompanied by heavy and cumbersome gas-producing equipment. Cody's kites had the distinct advantage of being easily transported and capable of flying in high winds, and in 1905, more kites were purchased by the army, with Cody being hired to train the Royal Engineers in their usage. Over the next four years Cody worked as Chief instructor at the Army Balloon Factory (later renamed the Royal Aircraft Factory and then the Royal Aircraft Establishment) first at Aldershot and then at Farnborough, designing and experimenting with kites, and providing training. His interest soon turned to airplanes, and in 1908 he made the first recorded flight over British soil. His aviation successes won him fame, and his flamboyant personality and dress (he would forever retain his long hair, cowboy hat and boots from his days in the Wild West show) endeared him to the public. In 1913 he died in an airplane crash, and was given a full military funeral.
The present archive documents Cody's experiments with kites from 1903-1909 at Aldershot and Farnborough. It includes a collection of over 600 photographs, lanterns slides, and glass plate negatives showing kites in flight and under construction; journals and diaries kept by Cody related to kite experiments; sets of blueprints and models of Cody kites; and a large collection of material from Cody's personal files, including flight records, correspondence, patent documents, and related material. An extraordinary record from the early days of aviation, it should be previewed to appreciate its full range.
Provenance: The S.F. Cody Archive, Sotheby's London, January 24, 1996, various lots; The Drachen Foundation.
A collection of photographs providing extensive documentation of Cody's kite experiments, comprising:
1. A group of 75 silver print photographs, approximately 9 x 11 and 10 x 12 inches, c.1903-1908, documenting kite trials on Laffan's Plain, on Navy ships, and elsewhere; Army on Laffan's Plain, showing manlifting kites in flight and under assembly; ariel views; kite launches at sea; Mr. Cody and Mrs. Cody in flight, etc; all but 3 mounted to photographers' boards, varying condition with some fading, silvering, soiling, and spotting, a few chips.
2. Album of 57 silver print photographs, 3.5 x 4.5 inches and smaller, c.1903-1908, documenting Cody's kite trials, in 8vo album, mounted to leaves, fading and spotting to photos, album worn.
3. Approximately 260 smaller silver print photographs, approximately 3 x 4 to 5 x 7 inches, c.1903-1908 of kite trials and assembly, aerial photos, etc, and including approximately 10 photographic postcards of Cody's funeral, varying condition.
4. 160 photographic glass plate negatives, 4.75 x 6.5 inches (96), 3.25 x 4.25 inches (23), and 2.5 x 3.5 inches (41), in original wooden boxes, of British military kite trials, dirigibles, trials over land ocean, aerial views, and balloons, most from Farnborough and Aldershot, England, and aboard Navy ships, a few chipped, some images deteriorating, measuring
5. 55 lantern slides 2 x 2.5 to 3.5 x 3.5 inches, in original wooden box, of kite trials, aerial views, etc., a few cracked.
Several sets of blueprint designs for kites, including:
1. Set of 11 blueprint designs for the Cody 3 ft MK III Kite, 525 x 770 mm (4) and 765 x 1300 mm (7), issued by Drawing Office, Directorate of Scientific Research and Technical Development, no date.
2. Set of 9 blueprint designs for Storm Type Kite, 525 x 770 mm (3) and 785 x 1270 mm (6), plus 3 sheets Schedule of Parts, issued by the Air Ministry, dated January 30, 1940, in original envelope stamped "On His Majesty's Service," and with a large set of photocopied blueprints also for the Storm Type.
3. Set of 9 blueprint designs for B Type Kite, 525 x 770 mm (3) and 788 x 1310 mm (6), plus 2 sheets Schedule of Parts, issued by Drawing Office, Directorate of Scientific Research and Technical Development, dated 1938, large prints laid down to linen, small edge tears.
JOURNALS and DIARIES
A collection of journals and diaries kept by Cody detailing his work with kites, including:
1. Manuscript journal of Samuel F. Cody, 44 pp, 8vo, including "S.F. Cody's Aroplaine [sic] or War-kite," 21 pp, in pencil, being an account by Cody of "my first ascent and my reason for making it," detailing how a manlifting kite functions, and include several illustrative sketches; followed by "Re: the alterations to be made in the specification for patent of my kites," 8 pp in ink; followed by Price list of Aeroplains [sic]," 1 p, and followed by 14 pp of pencil sketches of kites and kite parts, covers detached, some soiling to leaves.
2. Manuscript diary titled "Cody's Kite Work, 1905," to upper cover, 94 pp, March 6-May 8, 1905, small 8vo, being a record of work done at Laffan's Plain and Scroggs Bottom, comprising two pages per date, the left page headed "For reference" and recording parade and drill sites, weather, officers, men, pilots, lifters, etc, the facing page headed "Work done" providing a narrative of the day's kite experiments, a few pages not completed.
3. Manuscript diary, 90 pp, May 9-July 12, [1905?], being a record of work done at Queen's Parade, 17 pp completed in part or full.
4. Account ledger for "S.F. Cody's Klondyke Nugget Co.," at the back of which is an 11 page account in Cody's hand regarding his early kite experiments, "Started experiments in 1892 ... An abrupt finish to our Kite work was brought about by fire at the Opera House, St. Helen's, Lancs. where the entire plant ... was destroyed together with all my theatrical effects ... money was so scarce that I was unable to spare any for my Kite experiments until August 1900...," waterstained.
A collection of objects related to Cody's works, including:
1. Two models of Cody war kites, including one with a lifting basket, approximately 6 x 10 inches, early 1900s, card, wood, thread and carved wood basket, guidelines penciled to front and back of sail, maker unknown.
2. Fragment from "Cody's Tree," 12 inches height, being a piece of pine from the tree at Farnborough two which Cody tethered his first airplane while testing the thrust of the motor, with letter from B.C. Kervell of the Royal Aerospace Establishment Museum attesting to the same.
3. Two modern models of Cody kites, one 3 x 4.5 inches, tissue paper and bamboo, made by Charm Lindner, the other approximately 1.5 x 3 inches, tissue paper and bamboo, maker unknown.
A substantial collection of material from Cody's personal files, comprising:
1. documents, drafts of agreements, and correspondence relating to Cody's contract work with the War Department and the selling of kites to the same, including 10 pp Autograph Rough Drafts by Cody explaining to War Department costs of kites and manpower required to operate; Typed Document Signed ("Samuel Franklin Cody"), 1 p, partially completed in manuscript, requesting permission to apply for a patent for a "special device or design of propeller hub"; Typed Letter Signed, ("C"), 5 pp, to the Secretary of the War Office, regarding the use of his kites by the War Office; Typed Document, "Improvements in Kites and Apparatus for the Same," 7 pp, dated 20/11/01; Typed document, "Improvements in and connected with kite flying and Apparatus employed therewith" with accompanying diagrams, 12 pp; several drafts of a Typed Document, titled "Kite Drill," being instructions drawn up by Cody for the training of British officers and soldiers in the operation of kites, each draft 11 pp; permissions and licenses granted to Cody for use of land for aerial research; equipment requisitions; inventories; etc.
2. Approximately 50 pp of Typed Reports from the Royal Engineers Balloon section on trials of Cody kites and balloons.
3. Related material including correspondence with patent attorneys; 7 pp of rough sketches; approximately 200 letters of condolence to Mrs. Cody and Cody's son Leon following Cody's death; printed manuals on kiting and ballooning; promotional booklets from Cody's Flying School; lithographed poster of Cody from Vanity Fair; fabric samples; press clippings; etc.
The lot also includes a collection of material related to the work of DOMINA JALBERT (1904-1991), inventor of the ram-air inflated flexible wing, commonly known as the Jalbert parafoil kite. The material includes contracts and correspondence relating to the patents, copies of plans, scrapbooks, 2 reels of film, etc.
- The material related to Domina Jalbert, mentioned at the end of the catalogue description, is not included as part of this lot.