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From The Library's Museum Objects Collection / Ex 4993
From the Library's Museum Objects collection / Ex 4993

Covering the history of Aviation from 1490-1970.

  • Harold Fowler McCormick Collection of Aeronautica

    When first received, the collection consisted of 55 books, numerous manuscripts, and many prints. When processed, the collection was divided among the Divisions of the Department. All books are catalogued; many in LC aeronautica designation, and Richardson 9235's and are found in the General Rare Book Collection. See full text of McCormick Collection of Aeronautica. A listing of the Collection made at the time of gift. Xerox checklist made and bound, December 1978. 

    The collection of aeronautica assembled by Harold Fowler McCormick, Princeton Class of 1896, was given to the library by Alexander Stillman. Maurice H. Smith, "Travel by Air before 1900," Princeton University Library Chronicle 27 (1966), pp. 143-147 [ full text], gives a summary account of the holdings. (I am grateful to Mrs. Samuel H. Bryan, Jr., for calling this article to my attention.) They include iconography, documents, and printed materials. Among the documents are eight letters written by Etienne de Montgolfier to Desmarest. Two printed works have been especially valuable. The first item is the contemporary history of the earliest balloon experiments, Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond, Description des expériences de la machine aérostatique de MM de Montgolfier et de celles auxquelles cette découverte a donné lieu (1783). It is bound together with a second volume, Première suite de la description des expériences aérostatiques...... (1784). The second item in the McCormick Collection that has been specially useful is copy 278 of a privately printed volume, Comte de La Vaulx and Paul Tissandier, Joseph et Etienne de Montgolfier (Annonay, 1926). It consists of reproductions of portraits and contemporary prints together with facsimiles of certain documents from one or another of the collections of family papers mentioned above. The transcriptions are not always reliable. (The above text is quoted from Charles Coulston Gillespie,The Montgolfier Brothers and the Invention of Aviation, 1783-1784 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 179.)

    Some highlights are:

    1. Francesco Lana Terzi. Prodromo overo saggio di alcune inventione nuove promesso so all' Arte maestra. Brescia, 1670. Only edition of this famous illustrated work which presents "the earliest concept of flight based on aerostatic principles" (Dibner, Heralds of Science). Other subjects covered: crytography, hygrometer, microscope, telescope, clocks, thermometers. 
    2. [Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond]. Beschreibung der Versuche mit den aerostatischen Maschinen der Herren von Montgolfier. Leipzig, 1784. 
    3. Agostino Gerli. Opusculi. Parma, 1785. 
    4. Jules Latrige. Des Aérostats et leur direction. Paris, 1858. 
    5. Hatton Turnor. Astra Castra. London, 1865. 
    6. La Ballon Poste, numbers 1-22. (October 30, 1870-January 29, 1871), a complete set of a rare periodical known as "the birth of air mail."

    See also Collections File folder headed AERONAUTICA. The prints are in the care of the Graphic Arts Collection as of June, 1982; see (GA) GC014 for a complete listing of the collection. See also the listing of the Pendray Collection in the MSS Division collections descriptions.

    The following four items are of particular interest:

    Item 57 in the McCormick Collection list. Two scrapbooks formed by Henry B.H. Beaufoy with his bookplate. Material on ballooning 1784-1843 including newspaper clippings, advertisements, handbills, manuscripts, tickets, and contemporary prints, etc. from miscellaneous sources. Includes Beaufoy's own account of an ascent with Sadler, 1811, an 1824 broadside of a Graham-Beaufoy ascent, an aerial plat, numerous advertising broadsides (especially 1830s-1840s). Together with a manuscript index covering both volumes, all at the call number (Ex) 9253.114q.

    Item 283 in the McCormick Collection list. Large folio with the spine title 'Drawings and Engravings 1783-1885'. Includes more than 120 aeronautical prints. Call number for this book is (Ex) 9253.309e. Detailed list of the contents is available.

    Item 284 in the McCormick Collection. Two large volumes with the call number (Ex) 9253.143f contain the following: "a remarkable and extensive collection of 303 prints, printed matter, portraits, views, advertisements, bills, posters, music, caricatures, & c., all relating to balloons and ballooning, comprising ILLUSTRATIONS of the Flying Ship, the Chavolant or Kite Carriage, the Aerial Ship, Globe aerostatique, ascent of MM Charles et Robert, départ de MM. Charles et Robert du Jardin des Tuileries, Machine aerostatique de Messrs. L'Abbeé Midan et Janninet, Mr Lunardi ascending from the Artillery Ground, Moorfields, Ascent of Mr Blanchard from Chelsea, the Perilous Situation of Major Money, Ascent of Mr Sadler at Oxford, &c., the Fortress in Green Park with Balloon Ascent, the Pagoda and Bridge in St James' Park with Balloon Ascent, the Frist Balloon within the Artic Circle, descent of Mr Livingston on the Coast of the County Dublin, Opening of the New London Bridge with Balloon Ascent, the Vauxhall Royal Balloon, the Great Montgolfier Balloon, Mr Graham's Ascent at the Opening of the New Hungerford Market, the Flying Steamship (pocket handkerchief), the Century of Invention (pocket handkerchief) - BILLS and POSTERS: Mr Green's Ascents from various places throughout the Country, of Ascents at Vauxhall Gardens, of Balloon Races, and of Ascents from the Surrey Zoological Gardens - PORTRAITS: of V. Lunardi, J.P. Blanchard, F. Pilatre de Rozier, Mr Sadler, J.M. Hobard, Monsier Garnerin, John Hampton &c. - Prints of balloons, views, part of Mr Green's Balloon, autograph letters of Montgolfier (4 such)...." [from the bookseller's description. Note on provenance of this item: it is lot 8 in the New York auction catalog Illustrated Catalogue of the Valuable Library Formed by the Late M.C.D Borden ... at the American Art Galleries, Feb. 17-19, 1913.] 
    Detailed list of the contents is available.

    Particulars about the above and other volumes are to be found in the listing for the McCormick Collection filed in the Collections File under the heading: Aeronautica.

  • The McCormick Collection of Aeronautical Illustrations, 1783-1898 (GC014) consists of approximately 300 prints and drawings dealing with the first attemps at ballooning and air transportation collected by McCormick (Class of 1895). The collection includes cartoons, caricatures, pen-and-ink drawings, etchings and engravings. Among the artists represented are: George Cruikshank, Isaac Robert Cruikshank and Thomas Rowlandson. Individual print records can be found in the Library catalog and the Visuals Database.  

    See also the following Graphic Arts blog post: McCormick Ballon Print Collection.


  • In addition to 2,750 books and 600 pamphlets and journal issues, Arthur L. Newman '23 bequested to the Library approximately 1,000 aeronatical medals.  For a chronological checklist of the medals, see Arthur L. Newman '23 Collection of Aeronautical Medals (NC010)

Research Tools for Printed Material (Books, Maps, Prints, etc.)