August 2017 Auction Ends Thursday, August 24th, 5pm Pacific
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/24/2017
Letter signed by Mabel Beck, the Wright brothers long serving secretary, who here fights gallantly on behalf of Orville and Wilbur Wright for proper credit due them for inventing human flight. The much publicized feud between the Wright brothers and the Smithsonian Institution is well documented, but the minutiae over wording of the ''label'' that was to accompany the Kitty Hawk is not as well known, which this letter elucidates. After Orville Wright's death in January 1948, it fell to Mabel Beck and the heirs to negotiate with the Smithsonian to give proper credit for the Wrights' invention, in exchange for the Smithsonian's right to purchase the ''first in flight'' Kitty Hawk. Mabel Beck was suspicious (as Orville Wright had been) that the Smithsonian wouldn't properly credit the plane in its display, since the secretary of the Smithsonian, Samuel Langley, fancied himself as building the first plane capable of human flight. Dated 17 September 1948, letter to reporter Earl Findley reads in part, ''Today I signed a waiver of summons*, in Probate Court, for permission to sell the 'Kitty Hawk' to the National Museum [Smithsonian] for $1. Before signing I told Mr. Funkhouser, one of the attorneys of Mr. Wright's estate, that I was signing under compulsion because I did not agree with the executors on the label to be attached. Funkhouser evidently had not been in on any of these label conferences. [Orville Wright's nephew and Estate Co-Executor Harold] Miller had given him a copy of the final label, and Funkhouser could not understand my objections. I tried to explain to him what the word 'capable' meant to that label and why it was more important to have it in the label rather than in the bill of sale, and why the Smithsonian did not want it on the label. But I think the executors and attorneys are anxious to get the machine out of their hands. The label had to be settled before the Petition for sale could be filed in Probate Court...[signed] Mabel Beck''. Single page letter measures 7.25'' x 10.5''. Folds and paper clip impression, overall very good condition.
The Wright Brothers' Secretary Fights for Their Legacy -- ''...Today I signed a waiver of summons...for permission to sell the 'Kitty Hawk' to the National Museum for $1...under compulsion...''
The Wright Brothers' Secretary Fights for Their Legacy -- ''...Today I signed a waiver of summons...for permission to sell the 'Kitty Hawk' to the National Museum for $1...under compulsion...''
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$4,000
Auction closed on Thursday, August 24, 2017.
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