This collection consists of material documenting Martin's life. The material includes letters, photos, and documents relating to his Merchant Marine career and his aircraft and aeronautical inventions. Also included are documents pertaining to his conspiracy charges against the government and aircraft industry.
Biographical / Historical:
James Vernon Martin (1885-1956) was an aviator and inventor during the early days of aviation. He joined the Merchant Marine (1900) before attending the University of Virginia and Harvard (graduate degree, 1912). While at Harvard he organized the Harvard Aeronautical Society (1910), served as its first director, and, through the Society, organized the first international air meet in the United States (1910). He traveled to England in January 1911 for flight training and received Royal Aero Club F.A.I. Certificate #55. After returning to the U.S. in June 1911, he traveled the exhibition circuit (1911-13) before rejoining the Merchant Marine as commander of USS Lake Frey (1914). During 1915 he flew flight test for the Aeromarine Co. In 1917, he formed the Martin Aeroplane Company in Elyria, OH on the strength of nine aeronautical patents, including his automatic stabilizer (1916) and retractable landing gear (1916). In 1920 he moved the concern to Dayton, OH as Martin Enterprises and offered free use of his patents to the American aeronautical industry. He moved to Garden City (Long Island), NY in 1922, called the company the Martin Aeroplane Factory, and, two years later, sued the United States government and the Manufacturers Aeronautical Association, claiming that they conspired to monopolize the aviation industry. The suit was dismissed in 1926, but Martin continued to press his claims of collusion through the 1930s. During World War II he again returned to the sea, commanding a troop transport in the Pacific. Afterwards he tried to raise interest in a large catamaran flying boat, the Martin 'Oceanplane', but failed in the face of the growth in commercial trans-ocean service by conventional aircraft.
No donor information, gift, unknown, XXXX-0162, unknown
No restrictions on access
This donation includes the following: eighteen diaries of Sellers, 1899-1903 and 1907-1909; his laboratory daybook in which he wrote many of the details of his aeronautical work; Sellers' personal correspondence, 1899-1917; photographs, including images of Sellers quadruplane hang gliders, wind tunnels, and biplane; photographs by Sellers of the Wright Model A at the 1909 Fort Myer Military Trials; miscellaneous reports; and family papers.
Biographical / Historical:
Matthew Bacon Sellers II (1869 - 1932) received a LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1893 and during 1893-94 studied chemistry, physics, and mechanical arts from the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University, and Drexel Institute. From childhood, Sellers exhibited an interest in artificial flight, making his own kites, hot-air and hydrogen balloons, and various kinds of 'mechanical birds.' In 1903 Sellers began to direct his full attention to aeronautical research and invention. From 1903 to 1925, Sellers was involved with building gliders, aircraft and wind tunnels to accurately measure lift and drag of various airfoil curves. Sellers made his first powered hop in 1908 and among the mechanical innovations that he received patents on was an undercarriage design featuring retractable wheels. He was considered a leading authority on aerodynamics and was appointed to several boards, including the Aerodynamic Laboratory Commission, and the Naval Consulting Board as an expert on aviation and related matters. Sellers was also the technical editor of 'Aeronautics' and authored 30 articles on aerodynamics.
John Clark Sellers and Matthew Bacon Sellers III, Gift, 1986, 1986-0050, NASM
No restrictions on access
This 19th and 20th century ballooning memorabilia collection contains the following items, which have been meticulously inventoried: 112 stereoscopic photographs; 107 photographs; 84 postcards, trade cards, valentines, and similar items; 80 prints; and 23 miscellaneous items.
Scope and Contents:
The Krainik Ballooning Collection contains 112 stereoscopic photographs; 107 photographs; 84 postcards, trade cards, valentines, and similar items; 80 prints; and 23 miscellaneous items all pertaining to 19th and 20th century ballooning. Highlights of the stereoscopic photographs include: views of T.S.C. Lowe's balloons during the Civil War; views of the Nadar and Godard balloons; balloons during the Boer War, Russo-Japanese War, and WWI; and views of the airships Ganymede, Great Western, Phantom Balloons, Buffalo, Madame Carlotta, and The Aerial. The photographic portion of the collection features Matthew Brady's views of Lowe's balloons during the Civil War; views of the balloon Madam Carlotta before and during flights; smoke and gas balloon inflation and flights; and portraits of T.S.C. Lowe and other pioneers of ballooning.
The collection also contains lithographic cards printed in Germany, whimsical advertising trade cards incorporating popular ballooning motifs and events, and 19th century woodcut illustrations from various periodicals concerning all aspects of ballooning. Other items include a small broadside for the Grand Balloon Ascension of CARLOTTA and a contract for smoke balloon ascensions. A few non-archival items, such as medals for Lowe's balloon, City of New York, and Giffard's giant captive balloon, 1878, were accessioned with this collection and subsequently transferred to curatorial collections.
Note: The digital images in this finding aid were repurposed from scans made by an outside contractor for a commercial product and may show irregular cropping and orientation in addition to color variations resulting from damage to and deterioration of the original objects.
This collection has been arranged, first, in chronological order based on the Krainik inventory number that was assigned by the donor (K#), and then by size.
Biographical / Historical:
The Krainik Ballooning Collection was amassed by Clifford and Michele Krainik, experts in 19th and early 20th century historical photographs, negatives, and ephemera. This collection of 19th and 20th century ballooning memorabilia contains 112 stereoscopic photographs; 107 photographs; 84 postcards, trade cards, valentines, and similar items; 80 prints; and 23 miscellaneous items.
Clifford Krainik, Purchase, 1989, 1990-0009, NASM
No restrictions on access
The collection is the result of Major Hammer's passion for amassing material related to aeronautics and technology, and it is arranged into eleven series: articles, clippings, correspondence, drawings and blueprints, leaflets, legislation, minutes, miscellaneous, photographs, programs and publications. Housed in 23 folders, the correspondence is the most comprehensive series, reflecting the original order which grouped the letters into series by topic. Much of the correspondence concerns the planning of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909, and the involvement of Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss. There is also a scrapbook of black and white photographs providing front and side views of specified airplanes. Each page has 3 photos showing different views of the same plane accompanied by a label with additional information. (See written copy for details. Also, please see information written on 8x11 notebook paper.)
Scope and Contents:
The William J. Hammer Collection reflects Hammer's great interest in aeronautics --a passion he cultivated for several decades by accumulating a veritable storehouse of materials. Hammer's important contributions to the early development of aviation are also evident in this collection.
The collection of materials listed in the finding aid is arranged into two series. The first series includes correspondence, reports, handbooks, drawings, brochures, programs, leaflets, magazines, articles, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous materials. The second series is comprised of photographs of various sizes, scrapbooks, scrapbook pages and miscellaneous materials (the front pages of newspapers, certificates, posters, etc.).
Hammer's papers are arranged both chronologically and alphabetically. Correspondence, drawings, brochures, programs, leaflets, miscellaneous materials, scrapbook pages, articles and newspaper clippings are organized by the former method. Reports, handbooks, magazines and booklets are grouped alphabetically by either title of publication or author. Photographs are arranged either by subject or chronologically.
The reader should note that at some point, Hammer produced a series of large format photographs. These mounted photographs are duplicates. Due to the very fragile condition of these particular images, the photographs are stored at the museum's Paul E. Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland and are not available to researchers.
Additional photographic material regarding Hammer Collection photographs can be found in the NASM Archives Images database. An Archives staff member will assist you with research using this database.
William J. Hammer was born in Cressona, Pennsylvania, on February 26, 1858, was an associate of Thomas Edison and an early aviation supporter and enthusiast. He began his career as an assistant to Edward Weston of the Weston Malleable Nickel Company. In 1879, he moved on to a new position as laboratory assistant to Thomas Edison at Menlo Park, New Jersey. His duties ranged from aiding in conducting experiments on such devices as the phonograph, telephone and ore separator to acting as Edison's key person in further developing the incandescent electric lamp. By 1880, he was made chief engineer of the Edison Lamp Works. A year later, Edison dispatched Hammer to London to be chief engineer of the English Electric Light Company. In this position, he helped construct the Holborn Viaduct Central Electric Light Station in London. This was the first central station ever built for incandescent electric lighting. In 1883, Hammer became chief engineer for the German Edison Company. This task included planning and supervising the construction of all Edison plants in Germany. He returned to the United States late in the following year and acted as chief inspector of central stations of the parent Edison Electric Light Company. In 1886-87, Hammer was general manager and chief engineer of the Boston Edison Electric Illuminating Company. In 1888, he worked as an independent engineer and supervised the completion of the then-largest isolated electric lighting plant, located at the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. During that year, Hammer also was chosen as consulting electrical engineer to the Cincinnati Centennial Exposition. Subsequently, Edison selected him as his personal representative to the Paris Exposition of 1889. This assignment rounded out Hammer's eleven years with Edison. During his time as one of Edison's most trusted and important employees, Hammer devised a number of innovations to the incandescent electric lamp. He designed and built the first electric sign, which spelled out the name "Edison". While in Germany, he invented the automatic motor-driven flashing electric lamp sign. This particular sign flashed the word "Edison" letter by letter and then all at once. At the International Electrical Exhibition, held in Philadelphia in 1884, Hammer also constructed the first flashing column of electric lights.
Upon his return to the U.S. in 1890, Hammer worked as an independent consulting electrical engineer by assisting in a variety of electrical projects, carrying out tests, giving lectures and providing expert testimony in patent disputes. He based this modest enterprise in an office in New York City and continued in this occupation until 1925. His career as an electrical engineering consultant was interrupted by World War I. In June 1918, he was commissioned a major in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the Inventions Section of the War Plans Division of the General Staff in charge of Aeronautical and Electrical Inventions at the Army War College, Washington, D.C.. By December of that year, he was attached to the Operations Division General Staff at the War Department (Inventions Section). During the war and on into 1919, Hammer also worked for the U.S. Patent Office by identifying any aviation-related patents likely to convey too much information to potential enemies. In conjunction with his War Department duties, he acted as a member of the Advisory Board of Experts affiliated with the Alien Property Commission.
Busy as he was with his private consulting work, Hammer also immersed himself in other scientific activities. He took a particular interest in radium after visiting Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris in 1902. The two discoverers of radium gave him some samples of this substance. Soon after returning to the United States, Hammer experimented with radium. His research yielded numerous useful applications for this material such as radium-luminous powders and paints that were used to coat everything from watch and clock dials to aeronautical instruments, switches and toys. Hammer also advocated the use of radium for cancer and tumor treatment. Beyond his interest in this material, he invented selenium light-sensitive cells and recommended many practical uses for them. He also conducted a great deal of laboratory work on X-rays, ultraviolet and cathode rays, phosphorescence and wireless communications. Accordingly, he lectured and published extensively on many of these fields of research and study.
Hand in hand with his overall interest in science and technology, Hammer had a particular passion for aeronautics. Beyond paying careful attention to the rapid progress made in this field at the turn of the twentieth century, he also played an active role as participant and supporter. He made his first balloon flight over France during the Paris Exposition of 1889. His last lighter-than-air journey took place in 1931 aboard the U.S. Navy dirigible Los Angeles. Moreover, he attended and officiated over many balloon, airship and airplane exhibitions and races. Hammer was a member of the Aero Club of America and a director of the Aeronautical Society. This latter group made the first ever purchase of an airplane in January 1909. He served as expert and secretary of the Aeronautics Committee on the Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commission of 1909 and wrote the contracts for Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss to fly their airplanes for this event. This occasion in New York was important as it marked the first time a large gathering of people in the U.S. witnessed heavier-than-air powered flight. As a friend of the Wright brothers, Hammer testified as an expert witness on their behalf during various patent litigation suits. His contact with aviation pioneers went beyond the Wrights and Curtiss. He also knew and interacted with, among others, Samuel Langley, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Henri Farman and Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. Even his work with radium had applications for aviation. Hammer developed radium-based luminous compounds and used them on aircraft instruments so pilots could more easily view their cockpits' dials and gauges.
Hammer's last years were filled with serving as Historian General of the Military Order of the World War, as well as participating in many scientific, engineering and aeronautical committees and societies. During this time, he was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Elliott Cresson Gold Medal, John Scott Medal from the Franklin Institute and the Cross of the Legion of Honor from France. Up until his death on March 24, 1934, he also labored in his efforts to organize a vast personal collection of rare and valuable scientific artifacts, photographs and other materials accumulated since his days with Edison. Following Hammer's death, this important collection was left in the care of his daughter Mabel (his wife of twelve years, Alice, having died in 1906). Some years later, International Business Machines (IBM) acquired it. In 1962, IBM donated the William J. Hammer Scientific Collection to the Smithsonian Institution. The bulk of the collection resides with the National Museum of American History's Archives Center. In the mid 1980s, the aeronautical portion of this collection was transferred to the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Archives.
IBM (Mr. William J. Hammer Collection), gift, 1961, XXXX-0074, not NASM