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[Aerial Carriage with Diagram]

 Digital Record
Identifier: VBI_000122


  • Creation: c. 1843

Conditions Governing Use

Access to the Theodore Newton Vail Collection of Aeronautical Images, Broadsides and Clippings is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.

Biographical / Historical

In April 1841, William Samuel Henson patented a light-weight steam engine, and with fellow lacemaking engineer John Stringfellow patented a steam-powered monoplane called the "Henson Aerial Steam Carriage" in 1843. Henson, Stringfellow, Frederick Marriott, and D.E. Colombine formed the Aerial Transit Company. To promote their vision of the future, publicist Frederick Marriott commissioned prints depicting Henson Aerial Steam Carriages flying above London, India, Egypt, China, and other world locations. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to fly models of the craft between 1844 and 1847. The project was eventually abandoned, the company dissolved, and Henson later emigrated to the United States where he patented several other inventions, including the safety razor.

Existence and Location of Originals

Box 5

Physical Description

Art on Paper


26.5 x 21.0 cm

General Note

Engraving depicting two aerial carriages flying through the clouds, with a detail of the schematic pictured below.

Sources used for Biographical/Historical note

Crouch, Tom D., The Eagle Aloft, Two Centuries of the Balloon in America (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1983), 330-331.

Hodgson, J.E., History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (Oxford University Press, London, 1924), 355-358.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US