About 175 black and white photographs of a gas balloon race held over London in 1909 are being auctioned by Dominic Winter Auctioneers of Cirencester, Gloucester.
The Aero Club of the United Kingdom organized the point-to-point competition held at the Hurlingham Private Members Club in Fulham. Fourteen pilots took off at 3.30 pm on May 22 with the winning team being the one that could land nearest to a site that was designated shortly before the race commenced. Ten British, three German and one Belgian flyers took part in the race.
The winner was awarded an ‘objet d’art’ or £80 prize money while the runner up won a lesser antique or £20. These prizes are the equivalent of £2000 and £500 (US$3200 and $800) in today’s currency.
It was one of the biggest spectacles of its day attracting hundreds of spectators. As the enormous gas-filled balloons floated across the sky, onlookers were marveled by the cutting edge technology. Spectators who were not members of the Aero Club could purchase tickets for 10 shillings each, about £12.50 or US$19.00 in today’s currency.
The Verascope glass slides are expected to be sold for about £1000 (US$1600).