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    The Quiet Birdmen

    [Richard R. Blythe]. Quiet Birdmen Archive consisting of a Quiet Birdmen ashtray, an engraved cigarette case, a signed short snorter, a Birdmen wedding proclamation, various official documents, newsletters, menus, a memorial plaque, and several pins. Richard Reginald "Dick" Blythe was one of the founding members of the secret club for male pilots, Ye Anciente and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen, in January, 1921, along with friend and public relations man, Harry A. Bruno, and a group of World War I pilots. The group first met in New York City at Marta, an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, but, because of the growing size of the group or their raucous behavior (which led to the moniker Quiet Birdmen), they were asked to stop holding their meetings there. The group soon began to spread throughout the country, forming regional clubs or "hangars." Richard Blythe died in 1941 during a training exercise in Canada.

    Quiet Birdmen Aluminum Ashtray. Measuring 4.25" in diameter and stamped in the middle with the emblem of the Birdmen, a shield with the initials "QB" with a pair of wings, below which is engraved "New York Hangar."

    Sterling Silver Cigarette Case. Measuring 5.75" x 3.5", mounted with twenty-five lapel pins and wings (two detached) from various airlines, aircraft companies, and organizations. Engraved on the back to Richard R. Blythe: "To Dick Blythe, QB/With sincere appreciation/from his fellow members/of the Quiet Birdmen."

    One dollar "Short Snorter." A 1928 issue one dollar bill featuring the signatures of numerous members of the "San Francisco Hanger" of the Quiet Birdmen.

    Richard Blythe and Loretta Turnbull Wedding Proclamation. One vellum page, 10.75" x 13.25". Reads, in full: "The 'gang' from the Los Angeles 'Hangar' of YE ANCIENTE AND SECRET ORDFER OF QUIET BIRDMEN wish you Happiness, Success, Good Fortune and a long life of excellent good health." Signed by forty-four members of the Los Angeles Birdmen. Folded twice near the top. Beautifully penned. Toned edges.

    Richard R. Blythe Typed Quiet Birdmen Dinner Reminder. One page, 8.5" x 11", New York, n. d. Put to the attention of all local Birdmen, Blythe writes, in part: "The biggest meeting in the history of the 'Quite Birdmen' will be held at Keen's Chop House...October 7th. Among the notable 'Quiet Birdmen' that will be present we will have Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, America's 'ace of aces'; Colonel W.A. Bishop, Canadian ace; Lieutenant Walter Hinton; Leigh Wade; if possible, Rene Fonck; and the visiting 'Quiet Birdmen' who will be here to attend the Air Races." Folds. [and:] Four Typed Menus. One page each, 5.5" x 8.5", for a Birdmen dinner serving dishes like "'Pancaked' Potatoes," "'Rudderless' Peas," "'Night Air Mail' Coffee," and "'Out of control and spinning' Ice Cream."

    Identification Bracelets and Pins

    Three Quiet Birdmen Identification Bracelets. Two are engraved to "Col. R. R. Blythe" on the front and "US D of C License 21915" on the back and one is engraved "R. R. Blythe." Two bracelets are gold filled and one is 10K gold. [and:] Group of Four "QB" Lapel Pins and One Unidentified Pin. [and:] Two Gold Filled Quiet Birdmen Membership Cards. Both metal cards, number 500 and 501, measure 3.75" x 2.25" and feature an engraved facsimile signature of Richard R. Blythe, signify that "The bearer is a member of ye Anciente and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen." With Card Stock Quiet Birdmen Membership Card. Numbered 501, 3.75" x 2.25", signed by Richard R. Blythe and signifying "The bearer is a member of ye Anciente and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen." All three cards are housed in leather case blind stamped with Quiet Birdmen emblem.

    Richard Blythe Memorial Items

    Harry Bruno Typed Letter to the Quiet Birdmen News Announcing the Death of Richard Blythe. Two pages, 8.5" x 11", New York, May 21, 1941. Bruno writes, in part: "Silent toast to Dick Blythe. Dick's crash occurred while he was making a routine cross-country instructing a student. Dick took the controls to recover a spin but did not have enough altitude. When they tried to get him out first, a priest reports that Dick, who was in the rear seat seriously injured insisted, 'You can see that I'm through but I don't think my student is. Don't touch me until you get him.' He did not say a word about being in pain, although both feet were broken, his back was broken, his left arm was crushed from the elbow to hand, all his ribs were caved in, the stick was pushed into his side...the right side of his face was cut and his nose was broken...In memory, too I hear our old pass-word - "BURRO - QB" - and so until we meet again, "Burro, QB" to you and to our many other brothers who have taken off on the long westward flight." The story is located in the top half of the first page. Also, a second copy of the letter, 8" x 10". [and:] Richard R. Blythe Memorial Plaque. Metal plaque, 6.75" x 10.25", bearing the likeness of Richard R. "Dick" Blythe in flyer's hat and jacket with goggles above his head, below which reads: "Dick Blythe/QB Founder/1898-1941." Mounted to a wooden base to an overall size of 8.25" x 11.75". [and:] Newspaper Clipping. 4" x 5.5" of the death of Richard Blythe and the scattering of his ashes. [and:] Telegram. Folded down to 8" x 6.5", on "Canadian National Telegram" letterhead, New York, May, 1941, to the widow of Dick Blythe, in part: "On behalf of the entire QB organization which owes its existence in large measure to Dick's efforts we send you the very deepest sympathy."

    Two Copies of the Quiet Birdmen Newsletter Beam: Beam. Volume II, Number 5. Four integral pages, 9.5" x 12.5", [Los Angeles], July, 1940. Contains a report on the proceedings of the Executive Committee and news from the various "hangars" around the U. S. [and:] Beam. Volume III, Number 4. Twelve integral pages, 9.5" x 12.5", [Los Angeles], June, 1941. Contains a report on the proceedings of the Executive Committee and news from the various "hangars" around the U. S. The last page is dedicated to the memories of Richard R. Blythe, a founding member of the Birdmen who died during a training accident in his native Canada training pilots for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Kenneth B. Collings, and L. F. "Pat" Moran.

    Also, "New York Hangar "Autograph Note Signed by nineteen members of the Quiet Birdmen. One page, 5.75" x 9.25" (width varies), [New York], October 10, 1927. In full: "Friends Romans and Q.B.'s Lend me your ears - Basil Rowe and Cy. Caldwell have hopped off for Santo Domingo - SehLee and Brock are home again - several Q.B.'s are sober and all's well in our camp tonight hey ho!!" Signed below by Richard Blythe, Harry Bruno, and others. Left edge is uneven and the upper left corner is damaged; right edge is chipped. Attached to the verso is a newspaper clipping of the "QB" pin worn by members, including Charles Lindbergh. [and:] Dick Blythe Typed Letter to the Quiet Birdmen. One page, 8.5" x 11", New York, n. d., regarding the application process for prospective members. He ends by humorously adding: "LET'S KEEP THE QBS DELOUSED." [and:] Dick Blythe Typed Letter Signed. One page, 8.5" x 11", New York, February 10, 1939, to Olive Parks thanking him for his kind words about his efforts within the Quiet Birdmen. With a typed signature. [and:] Autograph Letter Signed to Dick Blythe. Two pages, 8" x 10.5", on "Headquarters 2nd Wing" letterhead, Langley Field, Virginia, n. d. In part: "Have been up to Mitchel several times but have refrained from roaming in to your little village for fear I might meet some Q.B. and end up in the hands of the police." From the Richard Blythe Aviation Collection.

    More Information:

    Richard Reginald "Dick" Blythe was born in Wapella, Saskatchewan, Canada, on February 8, 1894. During the First World War, he served in the Canadian Infantry 50th Gordon Highlanders from February to December of 1915. In 1918, however, he joined the Royal Air Force. After the war, he managed aircraft insurance company Johnson & Higgins in New York. In 1921, he took part in the first complete aerial circumnavigation of the Great Lakes in the capacity of insurance observer. Blythe was one of the founding members of the secret club for male pilots, the Quiet Birdmen, along with friend and public relations man, Harry A. Bruno. In the early 1920s, the duo formed the public relations firm Bruno and Blythe to promote early aeronautic activity. In May, 1927, while representing aircraft manufacturer Wright Aeronautical, Blythe was introduced to a twenty-five year old pilot who was going to attempt to make the first non-stop, transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. His name was Charles Lindbergh.


    With the pressure from the media increasing daily in anticipation of his flight, Wright Aeronautical, who had recently manufactured the Wright J5-C Whirlwind engine for Lindbergh's plane, Spirit of St. Louis, suggested that Bruno and Blythe handle the press for the young pilot. Blythe and Lindbergh became fast friends, forging a relationship that would last until Blythe's death. Blythe accompanied "Lucky Lindy" on his return voyage from Paris on the U. S. Navy cruiser Memphis.


    In 1932, Blythe married 19 year old Loretta Turnbull, an amateur outboard motor boat racing champion and the daughter of Judge Rupert. B. Turnbull.


    At the outbreak of the Second World War, Dick Blythe returned to his native Canada, and flying, to serve his country by training the next generation of pilots for the Royal Canadian Air Force. In 1941, Richard Blythe's life was cut short when he was killed in during a training exercise.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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