Since taking over this blog in July, I have mainly been writing about automotive materials found in the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection. However, as many of you already know, the contents of the collection do not consist solely of automotive materials. As I mentioned in my blog installment on the Airplane Makes series of the collection (see Non-Automotive Materials the in Z. Taylor Vinson Collection: Airplane Makes Series, August 31, 2012), Mr. Vinson was keenly interested in many different forms of transportation. In addition to that, he was also a frequent and avid traveler, and he made numerous trips, for both business and pleasure, throughout the United States and overseas. While pursuing his interests in both transportation and travel, he accumulated a remarkable collection of non-automotive materials. In recognition of Mr. Vinson’s interest in these areas, I decided to highlight another non-automotive series of the collection: Airline Companies.
The Airline Companies series represents a very small portion of the collection, containing only 8.5 boxes of materials. However, much like the Airplane Makes series, the depth and significance of its contents more than make up for its small size. The materials found in this Airline Companies series cover most of the history of the airline industry, dating from 1921 to 2009. One hundred and forty commercial airlines of varying sizes are represented in this series, including present-day companies such as Air France and United Airlines, and defunct companies such as Pan Am and Swissair. Most of the airlines represented in this series focused on the passenger business, but a handful of them specialized in hauling airmail and freight. The series’ contents are international in scope and concern airlines from countries all over the world, including, but not limited to, the United States, France, Germany, Japan, and China.
The Airline Companies series consists mainly of materials published by the airlines themselves. Many of the airline publications, including, but not limited to, airliner fleet catalogs, menus, passenger information brochures, route maps, timetables, and cut-out model airplanes differ significantly from those published by automobile companies. This series also contains other types of airline publications that are strikingly similar to those produced by automobile companies, including, but not limited to, company overviews, company magazines, and media information. Also found in this series are numerous magazine and newspaper advertisements through which the airlines publicized themselves and their services. The series also contains a significant amount of materials not published by the airlines, including, but not limited to, newspaper articles, magazine articles, government documents, and research notes.
There are plenty of fascinating items to be found in the Airline Companies series. One such item is a 1933 Pan Am timetable for the airline’s famed “Clipper” service to the Caribbean and Latin America. Also of interest in this series is a 1953 Air France fleet catalog advertising the airline’s use of the De Havilland Comet, the world’s first commercial jet airliner.
Air France, De Havilland “Comet”, Airline Companies-Air France: Fleet Catalogs: Specific Planes, 1948-1993
Pan American Airways System, Time Tables – Tariffs, Airline Companies-Pan Am: Timetables, 1933-1964
Kenton Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Taylor Vinson Collection at Hagley Museum and Library.