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Promoting An Aeronautical Investment 70 years before the Wright Brothers

Fascinating image of the takeoff and flight of a 20 horsepower steam engine powered passenger aircraft in "the Plains of Hindostan," promoting the early flight venture of aviation pioneer William Henson.

Originally lithographed by Madeley and published by Edward Wallis, the image is one of the earliest to illustrate a meaningful mechanically powered attempt at heavier-than-air manned flight.

The image shows an attempted pre-Wright Brothers' flight by William Samuel Henson (1812 –1888), a British-born aviation pioneer, engineer, and inventor. He and John Stringfellow collaborated on his best-known for his work, the aerial steam carriage.

 In April 1841, Henson patented a lightweight steam engine. In 1842, he and Stringfellow designed a passenger-carrying steam-powered monoplane, with a wing span of 150 feet, which he named the "Henson Aerial Steam Carriage".  Henson, Stringfellow, Frederick Marriott, and D.E. Colombine formed the Aerial Transit Company in 1843 in England to raise money to build the flying machine. A scale model was built, and attempts were made to fly the small model, and a larger model with a 20-foot wing span, between 1844 and 1847, without success.

Frederick Marriott commissioned prints in 1843 depicting the Aerial Steam Carriage flying above the pyramids of Egypt, in India, over London, and other places, which were later shown on the stamps of various countries. Marriott later became an aviation pioneer in California.


The image is extremely rare.  It is referenced as having been (also?) printed as a jigsaw puzzle as entry #981 in the National Book League's Children's Book of Yesterday: A Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at 7 Albemarle Street  London During May 1946 (Cambridge University Press 1946)

Condition Description
Photomechanical reproduction print (a tear is reproduced in the printed image around letters "D" and "E" in the key at the bottom).