"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Monday, September 6, 2021

Wilbur and Orville Wright

Aero Clvb of America

W. Wright
Sep 21 1908
Le Mans

O. Wright
Sep 9 1908
Myer Va.

V. D. Brenner Sc.

This 1908 medallion portrait of Wilbur and Orville Wright by Victor D. Brenner hangs in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC.  This seems to be the model for the gold medals presented to the Wrights by President Taft in 1909. (See  The Numismatist, Jan. 1908)

Here's a National Archives photo of Orville Wright, flying for 57 minutes and 31 seconds at Fort Myer, on Wednesday September 9, 1908.  As UPI said, “This exceeds by more than 26 minutes the hitherto world-breaking record made Monday by Delagrange near Paris.” 

Another flight on September 18 ended in a crash, killing Wright's passenger, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, and injuring Wright. (UPI)

Wright State University has this photo of Wilbur Wright setting the world endurance record at Le Mans, on Sept. 21, 1908.

Wilbur Wright flying a Wright 1907 Model Flyer at Camp d'Auvours artillery field near Le Mans, France, September 21, 1908. This flight set a world endurance record of one hour 31 minutes and 25 seconds over an estimated distance of 66 kilometers. The flight won the Aero Club of France prize. -- WSU
You can watch film of (part of) Orville Wright's 1 hour 12 minute  test flight at Fort Myer, a year later on July 27, 1909.

The reverse of the medallion shows a Wright flyer and the seal of the Aero Club of America.


Victor Brenner is better known for his portrait of Lincoln on the U.S. 1¢ coin. Here's a 1909 penny with Brenner's initials on the reverse, also in the Smithsonian collection.

The initials turned out be controversial and were taken off the penny in August of 1909.

Orville and Wilbur Wright appeared in Aeronautics Magazine in September of 1909 in the illustration of a light-hearted poem. Wilbur is clutching their government contract.

The Wright Brothers

They take a tumble now and then, 
These brothers brave and bold, 
When something in the rudder breaks 
Or wires refuse to hold. 
But after every swift descent 
They're always game and say 
O, that was just because we much 
Preferred to land that way. 

If they should lose their legs and arms, 
These aviators true, 
Would still continue their attempts 
To navigate the blue. 
They love to soar aloft and match 
The swallow in the flight. 
Their names are Wright because, you see, 
They're nearly always right. 

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