25c semi-official 1911 Vin Fiz Flyer stamp offered in Vienna

Austrian auction house Classicphil’s April 15-17 sale in Vienna will include a rare cover featuring a 25c semi-official 1911 Vin Fiz Flyer stamp.

The Vin Fiz Flyer was the first aircraft to fly across the continental US, from Brooklyn, New York to Long Beach, California.

Pilot Calbraith Perry Rodgers took on the monumental task in an attempt to win a $50,000 prize offered by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hirst. There was a catch. The plane had to be on the opposite coast within 30 days.

Vin Fiz Flyer Stamp

The cover features a profoundly rare Vin Fiz Flyer 25c along with a 1c green Benjamin Franklin

Rodgers convinced Armour & Company founder J Ogden Armour to pony up the cash for the attempt. The plane is named for an infamously disgusting grape flavour soft drink that Armour & Company had just launched.

The journey took more than two months, which included a three week stay in hospital for pilot Calbraith Perry Rodgers when he crashed on landing in California. Once his spine had healed he took off again - making the landing this time. But the prize had drifted out of reach long ago. He missed the deadline by 19 days.

The postcard is one eight covers to bear the stamp, which was produced in a limited run especially for the trip. The mail was taken off the plane in Imperial County, California in November 3, 1911 and made the rest of its journey overland.

The text on the postcard reads: "Calbraith carried this in his Wright model Ex racing aeroplane from Tucson to Phoenix. Keep it as a souvenir."

The cover last sold for $60,000 at Spink in 2006. That’s a significant increase on the $44,000 it made at Siegel in 2004. Classicphil have not included an estimate in the listing, but bidding will start at $20,000.

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