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Handwritten letter from Alberto Santos Dumont

Handwritten letter from Alberto Santos Dumont

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Sick, the famous aviator Alberto Santos Dumont apologizes to a friend he was supposed to meet in Paris.

Handwritten letter from Alberto Santos Dumont to Senhor Del Valle, 53 avenue Victor Hugo. One page. In French. 22cm x 17.5cm. No exact information about location and date. Excellent condition. Single piece.

My dear friend,

A thousand apologies for not coming yesterday. I didn't feel well.

From your friend, A. Santos Dumont

Alberto Santos Dumont (1873 - 1932) became known, above all for being one of the first - the first ? - taking off aboard a gasoline-powered plane. Unable to assume his media exposure, feeling responsible for the frequent plane crashes and its use as a weapon during the war, Santos Dumont suffered emotionally. He went into exile in sanatoriums in Switzerland and France, returning to Brazil only in 1931, to live out his last days.

Researcher Mr. Sergio Douglas Cavallari very kindly helped us to understand this letter:

When did Santos Dumont write this letter?

I can almost guarantee it's post-World War I. In my research, I clearly concluded that there are "two" Santos-Dumont: one before and one after the conflict (World War I). Even the handwriting has changed, with the appearance of the "=" sign in place of the hyphen. (...) Many say that he started writing Santos=Dumont to value both his Luso-Brazilian and French origins. In my opinion, it is a big nonsense. He started using the "=" instead of the hyphen, that's all, as it appears throughout the text of several letters, not just in the signature.

Another sign of being post-World War I is that he talks about his state of health. Several biographers say that, at that time, it was common for him to "disappear" from friends and get-togethers, because of depression. Then he would give some kind explanation, so as not to be inelegant or feel guilty. In 1925 he was hospitalized at the famous Valmont clinic near Lausanne.

Who was Mr. Del Valle, recipient of that letter?

Several personalities with the surnames Valle or Del Valle lived together in Paris at the time. One of the most famous was the Spanish caricaturist and painter Evaristo Valle, who was exactly the same age as Santos-Dumont. The inventor was very friendly with these arts people, including the cartoonist Sem (Georges Goursat) who was admittedly his best friend. The building on Av. Victor Hugo, 53 also looks like it was a hotel or a set of rental apartments in the past, it is very similar to several other Santos-Dumont addresses that I collected in letters from him.

Why is this document rare?

This letter, in perfect condition, helps us to imagine the brilliant inventor at the end of his life, in Paris, struggling with depression. The letter is simple, but we can highlight some interesting details: the comment about his poor health (with a mistake in French), an exceptionally large and legible handwriting and the initials ASD printed in monogram format, in Asian style, printed on a paper of great quality.

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