Letters of a pioneer of flight: the Brackley archive soars to £12,000 at Dominic Winter

Dominic Winter's auction on Thursday November 11, which celebrated the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, had a range of collectibles to fascinate both those fascinated by war memorabilia, and those more interested in the largely peaceful history of aviation.

These included series of collectible, early edition ballooning and aviation books, notably the Graham Warner aviation books collection. In amongst the 800 lots going under the hammer there were even a number of pieces relating to railway history.

Aviation memorabilia including the Quentin Bland collection of USAF aviation memorabilia, uniforms & flying clothing, Zeppelin memorabilia, propellers and aviation models made up most of the rest of the sale.

In the end, there were stand out lots from both the largely peaceful side and militaria:

Air Commodore Brackley archive
Air Commodore Brackley archive

From the former was The Brackley Archive. A fascinating and important archive of approx. 230 manuscript letters written by Herbert Brackley to his wife, Frida, the first from Kamakura, Japan, dated 6 May 1921, the last from Christiansborg Castle, Accra, Gold Coast, dated 22 October 1948.

These were sold together with an almost complete run of his pocket diaries from 1922 to 1948 (lacking only 1930), containing meticulous daily detail, mostly in pencil, alongside 180 vintage photographs.

A great deal of paperwork relating to Brackley's time in Japan with the British Aviation Mission was also included in the lot which smashed its £3,000-5,000 estimate to sell for £12,000 - a strong investment for the buyer.

Air Commodore H G Brackley's role in the history of manned flight was cemented by his wife Frida, who used the extensive correspondence to produce a biography following her husband's sudden death: Brackles. Memoirs of a Pioneer of Civil Aviation was published in 1952.

Longbottom Distinguished Flying Cross
'Shorty' Longbottom's Distinguished Flying Cross

The top militaria lot in the sale was the medal set belonging to Squadron Leader M.V. 'Shorty' Longbottom.

Consisting of a Distinguished Flying Cross, a George VI GRI (dated 1940 on reverse) in its case of issue, a 1939/45 Star, an Air Crew Europe Star, a Defence Medal and a War Medal 1939/45, the set, in good/very fine condition easily beat its £2,000-3,000 listing to sell for £8,600.


Join our readers in over 190 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock