The Modern Aeroplane

The catalog record for these two oversize British editions, published in the 1930s by an oil company, doesn’t do justice to the plentiful color illustrations of aircraft, engines, and their interior structure. The illustrations include several flip-up sections that reveal the aircraft “insides” and would be appreciated by audiences of any age who want to view this almost 90 year old “modern” technology.

Five Weeks in a Balloon

First published in 1863, this 1869 English translation edition of the Jules Verne balloon adventure is in good overall condition, including the illustrations. This copy was once owned by famed collector and ephemera expert, Bella C. Landauer. Mrs. Landauer's collection of aeronautical sheet music is a gem held by the National Air and Space Museum's Library. Her bookplate, noting her simply as "BCL," is on the inside front cover.

The Thompson Trophy Race, 1930-1937

The Thompson Trophy air race (1929-1961) was an annual aircraft speed race with a course set up around pylons. It was an especially prestigious event during the great air race period of the 1930s. This unique limited-edition publication covers the year’s winners from 1929 to 1936.  It has a gold cover and colorful illustrations of the winning aircraft, which are beautifully preserved.  Each illustration of a winning aircraft was designed to be suitable for framing. The book is held together with a spiral binding that is a concern for future preservation.

Le Royaume de l'Air

Le Royaume de l'Air, or the “Kingdom of the Air,” was published in Paris in 1909, during the first decade of machine-powered aircraft flight. It was written for young readers and includes plentiful illustrations and photographs documenting the historical development of aeronautics and contemporary innovations in this new technology. There are very few copies in libraries, and the Smithsonian is fortunate to have two in its collection. This copy is in need of extensive preservation treatment.

The Spirit of St. Louis Commemorative Issue

This 1967 commemorative newspaper issue documented the 40th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis monoplane. It features photos of a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis and of pilot Frank Tallman, cofounder of Tallmantz Aviation, which built the replica. The replica was flown to Paris by the U.S. Air Force to be displayed during the 1967 Paris Air Show.

Ryan Guidebook

This is an anniversary compendium of Ryan Airplanes (1925-1975), the company that built the Spirit of St. Louis—the airplane Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic—as well as many other commercial and military aircraft. The book details the many aircraft Ryan produced, and includes photos, advertisements, promotional brochures, and even a comic strip. It is an informative overview of an aircraft manufacturer that made a substantial contribution to aviation history and technology.

Wings of Yesteryear

What is an aircraft book doing at the national postal museum library? Airplanes have also carried the mail—and continue to do so. The golden age of private aircraft spanned the end of World War I to the start of World War II. During these years of temporary calm, aircraft engineers made significant technological advances, producing safer, stronger, and faster aircraft. Many of these innovations appeared in aircraft made for the private market.