Orville Wright signed patent office document offered on March 31

A US patent office document signed by Orville Wright in 1916 is estimated to sell for in excess of $17,500 at Nate D Sanders.

The lot will auction on March 31.

Orville Wright signed
The document transfers ownership of the patents to a group of investors

It authorises the release of a series of five patents filed by the Wright Brothers in 1906, including #821,393 - which lays out how to control an aircraft in flight.

By the outbreak of the first world war, the US aircraft industry had fallen behind Europe.

This was partly because the brothers' patents were so expensive to license.

In 1917, with the prospect of US involvement in the war on the horizon, the government ordered them to be released.

However, a cabal of investors, including the industrialist William Boyce Thompson, had bought the five patents specified in the document the previous year.

They were dismayed to have their investment made worthless when the patents were released into the public domain a year later.

However, Thompson's loss was America's gain. A number of companies started up to feed the growing demand for aircraft.

The auction house describes the piece as "an extremely rare document in early 20th century aviation history, and one of the few important Wright Brothers documents in private hands."

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