Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Antoinette & Blerio: or, The Up-Ended Monoplane

I've only just figured out this delightful card.  Googling "Antoinette & Blerio" led me at once to the celebrated French aviator and inventor Louis Blériot, who in 1909 made the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier than air aircraft. "Blériot was also the first," says Wikipedia, "to make a working, powered, piloted monoplane and the founder of a successful aircraft manufacturing company."  But Google was also twigging on "Antoinette"--a French manufacturer of "light petrol engines" of the very sort used by Blériot in his various experimental aircraft at the start of the twentieth century.  ("Antoinette also became a pioneer-era   builder of aeroplanes before World War I, most notably the record-breaking monoplanes flown by Hubert Latham and René Labouchèr.")

Ah, now it all makes sense: the impossible contraption the aerialist "Blerio"  is using (improbably)  to stand on here is part up-ended monoplane!   The place of performance is "sur the Champ d'Aviation"--probably referring to the Champ d'aviation de la Brayelle, an airfield near Arras, where Blériot tested some of his early planes.

Now the Collector must ponder: she thought to put this recently-acquired card in her large image-binder devoted to turn-of-the-century circus acts, but now it seems to be in the category of  "aviation" card.