Described as "phenomenally rare" by the auction house, a signed and inscribed photograph of the Wright Brothers has sold as part of an online auction that closed yesterday (January 16).
The photograph sold for $16,924, having received 25 bids to become the highest selling item of aviation memorabilia offered in the sale. It depicts the pioneering brothers with their French students in 1909.
Showing the five men posing beneath a launching derrick, the photograph's inscription reads: "A souvenir of our school days at Pau, in February and March 1909. Wilbur Wright." Orville has added his signature beneath.
The image follows the successful series of flights conducted by Wilbur Wright in 1908, which were a necessary requirement in order to secure a contract for the Wright Flyer from a private syndicate headed by French businessman Lazare Weiller.
Orville had been carrying out similar demonstrations in the US at the same time, before joining Wilbur in France.
The two brothers then travelled to Pau in order to train the selected pilots, before transferring the Flyer to Weiller's company. Charles de Lambert, Paul Tissandier and Captain Paul Lucas-Girardville became the first Wright-trained pilots, marking a monumental moment in aviation history and the peak of the Wright Brothers' international fame.
Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering the Charles Rolls Collection of Wright Brothers Photographs for sale, which comprises seven extremely rare photographs from the first European flight at Le Mans in 1908. Combined with its provenance from the Rolls-Royce founder, who owned a Wright Flyer and was good friends with the brothers, this is truly a fantastic piece of aviation memorabilia.