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Stunning Original NC-4 Relics from one of the Original Crew Members


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Stunning Original NC-4 Relics from one of the Original Crew Members.

 

This is one of the most intriguing historic early aviation lots that I have had the opportunity to work with, and thought I should share it on the forum before it goes back into private hands. It has been buried in a private collection since given to the current owner by Walter Hinton himself in the late 1970s, a couple of years before his death.

 

For those that are familiar with the NC-4 Flight in May of 1919, you may understand how significant this flight was at the time. The 1st Transatlantic Crossing by Air… While Lindbergh was the 1st to fly the route Solo 8 years later, this was the First Time an aircraft made that voyage successfully. Four Planes were built by the Glenn Curtiss Aircraft Company, supported by the U.S. Navy, for the attempt (NC-1, NC-2/used for testing only, NC-3, and Only the NC-4 was successful in completing the mission.) Lt. JG Walter Hinton was one of the 2 NC-4 Pilots on the Successful Transatlantic Flight.

 

There is a great deal written about the mission, initially put together by Richard Byrd, Glenn Curtiss, and Walter Hinton (In his own words, he was the “Most Famous Guy you’ve never heard of…” ), although a number were given credit. At the time he was a “Rockstar” and the equivalent of the Early Astronauts. Not until Charles Lindbergh made his 1927 flight did Hinton start to fade from memories. Lt. Hinton was truly a significant player in the Golden Age of Aviation.

He was actively flying well into the 1930s, and also known as the pilot of an aerial mapping expedition of the Amazon River in Brazil as part of the Rice Scientific Expedition in 1924–1925. Hinton, the last surviving member of the NC-4′s crew, passed away in 1981, just short of his 93rd Birthday.

 

This lot has a couple of notable components, the Key Piece being an Original Gold Plated and Monogramed Cigarette Case that he actually carried across the Atlantic on the NC-4 Flight in 1919. Another significant item is one of the Rare Cased Private Presentation Bronze Table Medallions that Glenn Curtiss gave to the players at a special dinner in NY City, shortly after the flight in July 1919. There are also 2 Original “Brownie” size Photos of the NC-4 in the water around the time of the mission, Personal Family Images with a classic daguerreotype image of his father and 3 other soldiers in uniform, 16 First Day Covers for Events he headlined in the late 1920s-early 1930s (5 of which are signed by Hinton…), and Original Newspaper Article and Obit. Clipping from the 1970s-80s. The Provenance is Ironclad, with a Personally Signed and Notarized Letter on an Original Sheet of Walter Hinton’s Personal 1930s Exchange Club Stationary, transferring the Cigarette Case, listed by Serial Number inside it, to the current owner in 1978.

 

This Cigarette Case appears to be the Only Known Personal Item in private hands that was actually on the crossing flight… and that may even include museums and crew families. As each guy in the 6 Man Crew was only allowed to carry 7 pounds, including their uniforms, they were allowed little to nothing in “carry on”, and as such, there was little to nothing carried across on the flight. The Actual NC-4 Plane and the majority of Hinton’s Medals, Awards, Documents, etc. are in Pensacola’s Naval Air Museum, including his Navy Cross Received for this flight, and the Congressional Gold Medal given to the Overall Commander and the 6 NC-4 Crew Members.

 

Please feel free to contact me directly if you would like more information on this group, as well as comparing notes on any other relics you may have seen over the years, relating to this mission.

 

There is also an Excellent thread on the Forum, with great information and images of the 1st Transatlantic Flight.

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/61830-the-first-successful-transatlantic-flight-by-the-us-navys-nc-4-flying-boat/

 

HintonLot1.jpgHintonCigCaseLtr.jpg

HintonMedalo.jpgHintonMedalr.jpgHintonMedalCased1.jpg

HintonLot2.jpgHintonDadImage.jpg

 

 

 

The Private Dinner at the Commodore Hotel in NY City, in July 1919, where Glenn Curtiss gave out the Cased Bronze Presentation Medallions...

 

NC4Dinner.jpg

Rich Witt

www.WittWorldWide.com

 

We are currently working on Updating and Improving the Web Site, so please be patient, and I appreciate all the visits... In the short term this may effect our USMF Images as well. RW

 

Collecting and Dealing in Quality Original Militaria, Specializing in Named/Attributed/ID'd Medals and Groups, with an emphasis on research.

"Putting the Face to the Name". We Appreciate the Service and Sacrifice, and Preserve the History...

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WOW!

That is about all I am capable of saying. What a historic treasure. The cigarette case and that beautiful medallion are beyond words. The medallion is probably the most beautifully made piece I have ever seen. It really is a piece of art.

 

Thank you so much for sharing these great historic items.

 

Chris

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Thanks Chris... The medallion is a beautiful piece of bronze work, custom made and designed for Curtiss by Whitehead & Hoag. We are still trying to figure out how many were made. It has been eluded to less than 25, but sure to be no more than the number of people in the private dinner photo from July 1919. No question it is a rare item, as no one I have seen has come up with anything more than design drawings. The Cigarette Case is a simple but beautiful Sterling Gilt, and as verifiably "Been There" as you can get. RW

Rich Witt

www.WittWorldWide.com

 

We are currently working on Updating and Improving the Web Site, so please be patient, and I appreciate all the visits... In the short term this may effect our USMF Images as well. RW

 

Collecting and Dealing in Quality Original Militaria, Specializing in Named/Attributed/ID'd Medals and Groups, with an emphasis on research.

"Putting the Face to the Name". We Appreciate the Service and Sacrifice, and Preserve the History...

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Rich,

Indeed this is a fantastic grouping related to one of the true pioneers of not just military aviation, but aviation as a whole. People may not grasp just how rare and significant the table medal is as it was basically the civilian version of the NC-4 medal. The "N" stood for Navy and the "C" stood for Curtiss, so between the Navy's NC-4 medal and this medal, it is probably as close as a collector will ever come to owning an NC-4 medal. For those hoping to find an NC-4 medal flushed from the woodwork- all of them that were awarded to crewmen are supposed to be identified and their locations known.

 

I appreciate your taking the time to post this. While it doesn't have the flash of a uniform, it is a stunner for those who know the group's significance.

 

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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Rich,

Indeed this is a fantastic grouping related to one of the true pioneers of not just military aviation, but aviation as a whole. People may not grasp just how rare and significant the table medal is as it was basically the civilian version of the NC-4 medal. The "N" stood for Navy and the "C" stood for Curtiss, so between the Navy's NC-4 medal and this medal, it is probably as close as a collector will ever come to owning an NC-4 medal. For those hoping to find an NC-4 medal flushed from the woodwork- all of them that were awarded to crewmen are supposed to be identified and their locations known.

 

I appreciate your taking the time to post this. While it doesn't have the flash of a uniform, it is a stunner for those who know the group's significance.

 

Allan

 

Appreciate the comments Allan, and as there were so many awards/medals handed out to crews and other participants I thought I'd try to clarify a couple of points.

 

The Table Medallion from the group in this thread, was essentially produced for, and given as a gift to certain players by Glenn Curtiss at the July 1919 Private Dinner. It is not a Government Award. No question it is significant and Rare, and Hinton had two in his possession before he passed. The Identical Cased "Sibling" was donated to the National Naval Aviation Museum-Pensacola by his family after Walter's death, along with his Federal and Foreign Medals, and the following pictured Congressional Gold Medal. The Congressional Gold Medals authorized in 1929, which were also Table Medals, were also large and estimated as having around 10 oz. of Solid Gold. Only 7 of these were given out, to the Overall Mission Cmdr. Towers, and the 6 NC-4 Crewman. (Keep in mind the NC-4 was 1 of 4 Planes built and used for the Transatlantic Flight, but the Only One that actually completed the mission, so different awards/medals/etc. were given to different levels of players, by many different groups.)

 

The "Big Three" Medals specifically for the May 1919 1st Transatlantic Flight are: the Curtiss NC Medallion 1919, the Congressional Gold Medal 1929, and the NC-4 Medal 1934... ALL are exceptionally rare, and very hard to find good images.

 

This image of the 1929 Congressional Gold Medal came from the National Naval Aviation Museum, and I believe is of Lt. Hinton's actual medal...

nc4medal.jpg

 

 

Interestingly the medal most of us call the NC-4 Medal, was not even received by Walter Hinton, although he clearly was authorized for it. Possibly as he was out of the service by the time it was created in 1934, but I am not sure how and when produced and distributed, now being Obsolete. These are also discussed in another Forum thread:

 

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/161751-real-or-replica-nc-4-medal-ebay-sale/

Rich Witt

www.WittWorldWide.com

 

We are currently working on Updating and Improving the Web Site, so please be patient, and I appreciate all the visits... In the short term this may effect our USMF Images as well. RW

 

Collecting and Dealing in Quality Original Militaria, Specializing in Named/Attributed/ID'd Medals and Groups, with an emphasis on research.

"Putting the Face to the Name". We Appreciate the Service and Sacrifice, and Preserve the History...

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I have to stand corrected in my last paragraph. Lt. Hinton DID receive his 1934 NC-4 Medal, along with the rest. The story translated to me was regarding a different award.

 

Thanks for reading,..

 

Regards, Rich

Rich Witt

www.WittWorldWide.com

 

We are currently working on Updating and Improving the Web Site, so please be patient, and I appreciate all the visits... In the short term this may effect our USMF Images as well. RW

 

Collecting and Dealing in Quality Original Militaria, Specializing in Named/Attributed/ID'd Medals and Groups, with an emphasis on research.

"Putting the Face to the Name". We Appreciate the Service and Sacrifice, and Preserve the History...

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While the medallion is certainly beautiful and significant, I don’t want the Cigarette Case to be lost in the discussion, as this is the Relic that actually "road along" on The Flight…. This is the Surviving Witness to History.

 

Cigarette Case Markings:

 

On backside of spring loaded cigarette clip:

 

Illinois U.S.A.

GOLD FILLED

GUARRANTEED 10 YEARS

 

Numbered inside both halves of case shell: “3012933”

 

As it is unmarked as to Base Metal content, I can’t be sure, but appears to be a Heavily Gold Plated Brass on close examination. These details line up perfectly with the Notarized Transfer/Provenance Letter, signed by Walter Hinton in 1978, and included in the group.

 

HintonCigCase1x.jpgHintonCigCase2x.jpgHintonCigCase3x.jpg

 

Post-Flight Image, taken in Washington D.C. 1919 with the Sec. of the Navy (And the Assist. Sec. of the Navy you may recognize before his Presidency...) FDR was also a player in the NC-4 Flight. Walter Hinton is in the Upper Right Corner of Group...

 

NC4WashDC1919Photo.jpg

Rich Witt

www.WittWorldWide.com

 

We are currently working on Updating and Improving the Web Site, so please be patient, and I appreciate all the visits... In the short term this may effect our USMF Images as well. RW

 

Collecting and Dealing in Quality Original Militaria, Specializing in Named/Attributed/ID'd Medals and Groups, with an emphasis on research.

"Putting the Face to the Name". We Appreciate the Service and Sacrifice, and Preserve the History...

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  • 2 years later...

A personalized cigarette case identical to Hinton's (only difference being the name, of course) belonged to A.C. Read and is part of the artifact collection at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL. The museum has one of the largest holdings of artifacts and archival materials pertaining to the NC-4 and her sister flying boats, including a majority of the awards given to Read, Towers, Hinton, Rodd, with others belonging to Stone and additional mission members. Also included in the museum's collection is a leather wallet that was carried by Walter Hinton on the flight, as well as A.C. Read's official log that he kept during the mission; several other artifacts have been identified as being on the NC-4 throughout her journey.

 

 

 

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It's too bad the photo links don't work anymore.

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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I'll try to find time to reload the images to new server...

 

I also have a group of Original Large Format Presentation Documents given by various groups to Hinton for an Expedition over the Amazon River he flew a couple of years after the NC4 Flight. A number of which have some Beautiful Lithography, and more great early aviation history. These were given at a time, at various South American receptions, where he was really treated like a Rockstar of the age...

 

Regards, Rich

Rich Witt

www.WittWorldWide.com

 

We are currently working on Updating and Improving the Web Site, so please be patient, and I appreciate all the visits... In the short term this may effect our USMF Images as well. RW

 

Collecting and Dealing in Quality Original Militaria, Specializing in Named/Attributed/ID'd Medals and Groups, with an emphasis on research.

"Putting the Face to the Name". We Appreciate the Service and Sacrifice, and Preserve the History...

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Rich,

 

The documents sound lovely. The museum also has a few original certificates that accompanied Hinton's foreign awards (as well as the majority of the awards themselves), and copies of other certificates. It is my understanding that prior to his death, the gentleman willed his entire collection to NNAM (of which I am the curator) though obviously he must have given a few pieces away to other individuals.

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  • 11 months later...

I WISH TO CORRECT A LONG STANDING HISTORICAL FACT THAT LT. WALTER HINTON USN WAS ACTUALLY THE CO-PILOT. LT ELMER STONE HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY DECLARED BY THE USCG AS THE LEAD PILOT OF THE NC-4. THIS DECLARATION BY THE COAST GUARD WAS MADE OFFICIAL WHEN THE COAST GUARD CHANGED LT. STONE'S HEAD STONE AT ARLINGTON CEMETERY TO READ "PILOT" INSTEAD OF CO-PILOT.LT ELMER FOWLER STONE WAS THE FIRST COAST GUARD AVIATOR AND THE 38TH NAVAL AVIATOR.

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