Rolls-Royce, the Wright Brothers and some incredible historic photographs

"Suffice it to say that after experience with every form of locomotion, including cycle and motor racing... there is nothing so fascinating or exhilarating as flying."

- Charles Rolls, Rolls-Royce mogul, on flying with Wilbur Wright, aviation pioneer

With all the best collections, the story of the collector behind it is usually as interesting as the rare memorabilia pieces they amassed...

Like the collector and entrepreneur Charles Stewart Rolls, for instance. In 1896, Rolls had been among the first drivers to break the speed limit. Later, a 1904 meeting with fellow impresario FH Royce resulted in the birth of car manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

From cars, to aeroplanes and balloons - Rolls was fascinated by it all. In 1910, he became the first person to fly by aeroplane non-stop across the English channel and back.

Wright and Rolls: a meeting of great minds

The turn of the 20th century was a great period to be interested in aviation - and Rolls was soon beguiled by the innovations of the era's genius inventors, the Wright Brothers.

Rolls enjoyed his first aeroplane flight with Wilbur Wright in October 8, 1908, taking off from Camp D'Avours, France.

A photograph of Wilbur Wright in flight at Le Mans which so captivated Charles Rolls – part of the collection mailed to him in 1908 (click here to find out more)


Rolls had to see what the Wright Brothers were developing and duly requested a collection of photographs showing their latest innovations. On October 20, 1908, just weeks after Charles Rolls and Wilbur Wright's shared flight, these photographs (shown above and below) were posted to Rolls...

These unique historic photographs document Wilbur Wright's first European flight at Le Mans. It had taken place a month previously, on August 8, 1908.

Fascinating photographs which led to disaster...

Sadly, these photographs would gain macabre significance.

So captivated was Rolls by the Wright brothers' innovations that he went on to purchase one of the brothers' Wright Flyers. This would result in his death, aged just 32.

On July 1910, Charles Stewart Rolls became the first Briton to be killed in an aeronautical accident with a powered aircraft. The tail of his Wright Flyer broke off during a flying display in at Hengistbury Airfield, Bournemouth, UK.

Wilbur Wright photographed before his first European flight at Le Mans, France, on 8 August 1908 (click here to see more images)


Rolls was the 11th person in the world to die in a powered aircraft crash.

Photographic documents of man's ingenuity

More than a century after Rolls untimely death, these photographs have now come into the possession of Paul Fraser Collectibles.

Paul was excited to see that these original photographs - sent to Charles Rolls on October 20, 1908 by the M.Rol & Co, the Paris-based international photography agency - were not only in great condition, but also still in their envelope addressed to Mr Rolls at Regent St, London.

Today, these original images are vital historical documents of a period when aviation innovation and entrepreneurialism combined to revolutionise mankind's travels through the skies.

Charles Rolls’ captivating written account of his first flight with Wilbur Wright – Paul Fraser Collectibles has a copy of this for sale along with Rolls’ original photograph collection (click here for more details)


Indeed, it was Rolls who first accompanied the Wright brothers when they came to Britain in 1909 to discuss the building of their flying machines.

Rolls would later write a captivating account of his first aeroplane flight with Wilbur Wright in 1908. It can be found in a book entitled "An Aeroplane Flight With Wilbur Wright" - from which the quote at the top of this article is taken.

Having held and verified this stock, Paul Fraser Collectibles is now offering the Charles Rolls Collection of Wright Bros aviation photographs for sale on a first-come-first-served basis - we have it priced at just £4,950.

You can learn more about the incredible the Charles Rolls Collection of Wright Bros aviation photographs here. 

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