Thankfully I’m not talking about the nauseating, nappy-wearing green bird attached to the hand of Keith Harris.
By Orville, I mean the pioneering aviator and owner of an excellent moustache, Orville Wright. Both of them wished they could fly, right up to the sky, but only one of them succeeded and in doing so changed the course of history.
The Wright Brothers
Orville and his brother Wilbur got their wish, and on December 17, 1903 they conducted the first successful controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight. They might have only risen to 120ft, but in terms of a monumental breakthrough the sky was the limit.
It may have seemed to the brothers as if the hard part was over, but their next challenge was to sell their new ‘aeroplane’ to the U.S government. It took them a further four years of negotiations, polite rejections and insults from the French before President Theodore Roosevelt listened to their proposal, at the insistence of the American Aero Club.
Roosevelt suggested the possible military applications to the U.S Army, who were obviously eager to drop heavy things on people from a great height. The Army decided to place the contract for the first military aircraft out to tender, with the belief that only the Wright Brothers would be successful, and in 1908 they won their dream contract.
They stated they could build a plane for the military at a cost of $25,000, and as security were required to present a holding deposit of 10% in case they failed to deliver. The brothers promptly changed their company name to the Wright Brothers, opened a new company account at the Winters National Bank in Dayton, Ohio and presented their first company cheque for the sum of $2,500 to General James Allen, the Chief Signal Officer for the U.S. Army.
That cheque heralded the U.S military’s first forays into aviation, and the birth of the U.S Airforce. The B-17 Flying Fortress? The F-16? The Stealth Bomber? The Marines? It all started right there, on January 27, 1908.
This is where we come in. Here at Paul Fraser Collectibles we’re lucky enough to be able to offer that very cheque to our clients – and it even comes with our 120% guarantee.
As a unique piece of history, it’s one of the best we’ve ever owned. Just in terms of its value as an autograph, it’s exceptionally rare. Wilbur’s death at the age of just 45 means that there are precious few examples of both their signatures together.
But it’s much more than just an autograph. It’s the Wright Brothers Company cheque number 1, the unique piece of paper that started it all. And it’s available at our website right here.
So happy 140th birthday Orville Wright. If it wasn’t for you, they’d never have been able to make Top Gun.