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Commented photograph of a flight by Santos Dumont (1904)

Commented photograph of a flight by Santos Dumont (1904)

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"Santos on top of the military parade on July 14, 1904."

  • Handwritten letter from Louis Bereau to Albert Tissandier, with period photography in postcard format and text about Alberto Santos Dumont.
  • July or August 1904, Paris.
  • 14 cm x 9 cm.
  • In French.
  • Excellent condition.
  • Unique piece.

We often wonder who invented the airplane. The Wright brothers, say the Americans. The French talk about Clément Ader. The Brazilians claim that it was Santos Dumont. In reality, like most great inventions, there is not a single inventor but several people who thought, experimented, failed and achieved small victories so that finally - one day - the dream became reality. The same goes for the invention of the automobile, the telephone, the internet, the conquest of space, etc.

Louis Bereau , the author of this letter, was well known in the aeronautical world. An influential person who attended and supported most aviation adventurers. He had already made many balloon flights and had an impressive collection of objects related to this subject that so inspired inventors. And in 1900, France was asked to present the collection at the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

Albert Tissandier, was the brother of Gaston Tissandier, and uncle of Paul Tissandier, who I have already presented here in other documents. The Tissandier family was famous and was decisive in the world of balloons and engines, and for Santos Dumont. They were passionate about mechanics and are responsible for a series of patents and records, including the world airplane speed record (Paul, May 25, 1909). In fact, the pioneers of aviation were mechanics and were interested in the automobile, a recent invention. For example, the French brand Peugeot - which Brazilians know well - later financed the work of Frenchman Etienne Oehmichen, who largely contributed to the invention of the helicopter with Breguet, Cornu, Pescara (a Spaniard) and others.

But the magic of rare documents is often in the details. That's once again the case here, with this little phrase written by Louis Bereau at the top, just above the photo:

"Santos (Dumont) on top of the military parade on July 14, 1904".

In fact, we see in this photograph, Santos Dumont on July 14, 1904, in what appears to be number 14, in the suburbs of Paris, in St. Cloud or Bagatelle, participating in the French national holiday, the day of the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution (July 14, 1789).

The story of Santos Dumont is linked to July 14th, the National Festival of France. On July 14, 1903, for the first time in the world, a flying device took part in a military parade. And the author of the feat was Santos Dumont, with the airship number 9, the most popular of his balloons.

One can imagine that Bereau , the Tissandiers, the French military, many important personalities, including the President of the Republic, as well as thousands of onlookers, would meet there, elegant and with their heads held high, to admire the audacity of this little Brazilian. In the letter, Bereau adds that his health was not good and, in fact, he passed away just a few months later, without having seen Santos Dumont fly “for real”.

The document I present today is the kind of rarity I love to discover. It is a vibrant testimony to this time, the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, when many enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals, were interested in man's oldest dream: flying. Mainly in Europe and America.

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