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Lot 47182
Wilbur and Orville Wright Signed Contracts Together with Contemporary Shaded Aviation Goggles. Two contracts, both one page, 8.25" x 11", no place. The contracts "appoint Andrew Freedman and Pliny W. Williamson...my true and lawful Attorney and proxy, for me and in my name place and stead to vote upon all stock held by me in The Wright Company at the meeting of the stockholders of the said Company...for the election of Directors and Inspectors of Election and for such other business as may come before the meeting...". The first contract, dated November 2, 1911, is signed by Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) and witnessed by brother Lorin Wright (1862-1939) for a meeting held on November 8, 1911. Wilbur Wright died six months later in May 1912. The second contract, dated November 8, 1912, is signed by Orville Wright (1871-1948) and witnessed by Mabel Beck for a meeting held on November 13, 1912.

The two contracts are offered with period aviation goggles, made from plastic and with synthetic fur lining and an elastic adjustable band. The rudimentary goggles are housed in a small leather pouch, which has a snap closure. It is unknown whether they were used by either brother, but it accompanied the contracts when it was originally obtained by our consignor.

The Wright brothers are known for inventing, building, and flying what is credited as the first successful airplane. Their first sustained flight took place on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. At first, the brothers' initial success with flight was not believed by many of in the national press or others interested in flight because few saw the early flights and the only photographs were taken by the brothers themselves. The brothers kept their early flights secret in order to protect themselves against competitors stealing their ideas, as they had no patent until 1906. Thus, Wilbur set out for Europe in 1908 to prove his and his brother's claim and to sell airplanes. Wilbur overcame European skeptics with several spectacular flights in France. Later Orville joined Wilbur in Europe, where both became celebrities and successful salespersons of airplanes. Returning to the United States in 1909, the Wright brothers finally found success-and wealth-- in their own country by building and selling airplanes.

The Wright Company was the commercial aviation firm established by Orville and Wilbur on November 22, 1909, in conjunction with several prominent industrialists from New York and Detroit with the intention of capitalizing on their invention of the practical airplane. The business office was located in New York City, and its factory in Dayton, Ohio, the first constructed in the United States specifically to build airplanes. The Wright Company concentrated its efforts on protecting the company's patent rights rather than on developing new aircraft or aircraft components, believing that innovations would hurt the company's efforts to obtain royalties from competing manufacturers or patent infringers. The company was involved in many lawsuits to protect its interests, which tarnished the public images of the brothers, considered by many to be heroes.

Wilbur, the more business-minded of the two brothers, who served as president of the Wright Company, stopped flying in 1911 to devote his time to running the company and dealing with several lawsuits relating to the company's patent rights. He spent much of 1911 traveling, including six months in Europe, which posed a strain on his health. He fell ill during a business trip to Boston, Massachusetts, in April 1912. He was diagnosed with typhoid fever and died on May 30 at his home in Dayton, Ohio, just six months after signing this contract. Following the death of his brother, Orville carried on the company until he sold it in October 1915. In 1916, the Wright Company merged with the Glen L. Martin Company to form the Wright-Martin Company.

These are two interesting documents relating to the company founded by the Wright Brothers.

Condition: Contracts have flattened folds, with light toning and soiling at edges. Orville Wright's contract has a small rust stain at the top corner where a paper clip stained the paper. The goggles are in good condition, with some material loss and separation at the edges (where fur is adhered).

Buyer's Premium

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47182: Wilbur and Orville Wright Signed Contracts Toget

Estimate $12,000 - $18,000Oct 25, 2018
Auction Curated By:
Sandra Palomino
Director Historical Manuscripts
3500 Maple Avenue
17th Floor
Dallas, TX 75219
United States
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