Publication: W B Clarke & CO, 1894, Boston
First edition. 8vo. Pictorial wrappers, 172 pp., frontispiece (drawing of Leonardo Da Vinci 1452-1519), illustrated, 16 plates. This is the first issuance of The Aeronautical Annual. The title page devotes this work to "the encouragement of experiment with aerial machines and to the advancement of the science of aerodynamics." The editor put this work together in the hopes of luring new workers into the field of aerodynamics. This particular copy was submitted to the Library of Congress for copyright purposes and then discarded afterwards. There is a Library of Congress copyright ink stamp on the title page dated January 16, 1895. The publication contains information on Leonardo da Vinci as well as illustrations of his notes and extracts from his Treatise on the Flight of Birds. Also contained are articles by other famous aeronautical thinkers such as Sir George Cayley, Thomas Walker and F.H. Wenham. Another earlier publication by Means titled The Problem of Manflight is included. James Means was a prominent figure in aeronautical thinking and experimentation during this time. He sought to encourage and foster aeronautical thoughts, which is evident through his Aeronautical Annuals of 1895, 1896 and 1897. He is also responsible for the publication of another pamphlet titled The Problem of Manflight, included in this present work, which offered a design for a large model soaring machine with which people could experiment. It was in this pamphlet that Means offered one of his most memorable observations that "aerial transit will be accomplished because the air is a solid if you hit it hard enough." The importance of Means’ work is shown through Orville Wright, of the Wright Brothers, sending a letter to Means' son in 1921 acknowledging the role his Aeronautical Annuals played in cultivating and sustaining their interest in aeronautics. He wrote "the Aeronautical Annuals of 1895-96-97 contained the best collection of reprints from the work of the earlier experimenters in aviation [...] and I do not know of a better collection today. Your father showed rare good judgement in his selections, separating most of the good work from the mass of worthless matter which had been published. [...] Your father's work was of great benefit to us, and I think of my great personal acquaintance with him with affection." Moderate wear to the spine ends, fold creases, closed tears and nicks to the bottom edge of the front cover and to the bottom margin of the first ten pages (not affecting any of the printing), else internally clean and in overall very good condition.
Inventory Number: 50295