Houston House Fire Leads To Discovery Of Mysterious Treasure Of Meticulous Airship Illustrations

by • March 25, 2013 • Art, Design, UnexplainedComments (0)3551

A Houston house fire in the 1960s led to a remarkable discovery that continues to baffle art experts and aeronautical historians more than 50 years later.  In a fascinating story published last week in The Atlantic, Rebecca J. Rosen tells the story of a how a miraculously undamaged box from the attic was thrown into the trash by the side of the road, and was discovered by a passerby who noticed the box was filled with an astonishing collection of illustrated journals of a man named A.A. Dellschau.  Rosen writes, “Among that debris: the 12 illustrated scrapbooks of one Charles August Albert Dellschau, German immigrant, supposed former Sonora Aero Club member.  Created between 1908 and 1921, during Dellschau’s retirement, the pages document his recollections of the machines, meetings, and men of the [Sonora Aero Club].  ‘Dellschau’s life-work was carried unceremoniously out into the light of day and literally left in a heap in the gutter,’ writes the late art critic Thomas McEvilley in a forthcoming volume about the artist.  But what could have been the artwork’s death was its birth.  As McEvilley puts it, ‘It was born into the gutter, you might say.’  No one quite knows who rescued the books from their landfill fate, but soon they landed at Fred Washington’s OK Trading Post.  There they lay beneath some carpets, or maybe they were tarpaulins, until a student at a local university noticed them and brought them to the attention of a Houston art collector.  By 1970, all 12 volumes had found more permanent homes.  Dealers and historians eventually tracked down some additional Dellschau works, including a series of three journals called ‘Recolections’ [sic], that also tell the story of the Sonora Aero Club and its inventions, with ‘ink drawings of fanciful airships that … look for all the world as if they had flown off the pages of a Jules Verne novel,’ as flight historian Tom D. Crouch describes them.”  You can read the full remarkable story, as well as browse all the high-res images by visiting The Atlantic.

Source: The Atlantic

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