Lot 947: AUTOMOBIL- & AVIATIK-AG
October 29, 2016
Brussels, BelgiumLive Auction
Description: 1917 ELSASS. MÜHLHAUSEN-BURZWEILE. Inhaber-Aktie 1000 RM. brown, green, pink. No 1151. Folds and a few pin-holes. This is a very attractive share of the first German airplane manufacturer. Indeed, the Automobil- & Aviatik AG was founded on Dec. 10th 1909 in Mülhausen (then part of Germany, today Mulhouse in France) by Georges Châtel, Jules Spengler, Ludwig Holzach and Henri Jeanin with a capital of 30.000 Marks. It is interesting to note that the first planes the company built were French types for which it had obtained licenses (Farman biplanes and Hanriot monoplanes). Yet, already in June 1910, a first biplane of itsown construction was being tested and selected to be ordered by the German military - the birth of what would become the Luftwaffe. In the meantime, the company had built its own aerodrome (probably German's second after Berlin-Johannisthal) in Habsheim, near Mülhausen. The company also opened a flying school at Habsheim, where they organized the first aviation meeting of the region in the summer of 1910. By the outbreak of the war, the company was ready to produce on a large scale planes for the German army, both monoplanes (B-series) andbiplanes (C-series). At first unarmed scout planes, they soon had weapons (machine guns), and the C-III type was also used as a bomber. Overall the company produced some 2600 planes during the "Great War". They also manufactured some of the famous Gotha heavy bombers under subcontract.Because of the nearness of Mülhausen to the French border, the management moved production in 1915 further into Germany, and manufacturing units were set up in Freiburg and Leipzig. Furthermore, they sold licenses for their models in other countries. So we find records of "Aviatik" planes being constructed in Belgium, Poland and especially in the Austrian Empire. In 1917, the "Automobil- & Aviatik-AG" bought the aviation manufacturing company of Hans Grade (Grade Flugzeugwerke), another German aviation pioneer, who after the war switched to car manufacturing (Grade Automobil-Werke). The peace treaty of Versailles stipulated that Germany could no longer produce planes, resulting in the obvious end of the aviation division of the company. As far as the automotive part of the business is concerned, our information is more fragmented. Until the outbreak of the war in 1914, the company continued to sell Peugeot cars, as well as the "Adler" and "Vermorel" cars. After the war, the fortune of the company was probably rather limited since our information indicates the company was dissolved in the 1920s. However, the 1920 opened division in Basel remained the Swiss importer and distributor of Ford cars from the 1920s right up to 1989. In the meantime, Autavia AG, as it was called, is reputed to have invented the first automatic car wash in the world (in the early 1940s <-> in the US since the 1950s). After 1989, the company started selling Citroen, Chrysler, Hyundai, Suzuki and Subaru cars in Therwil, close to Basel, where it is still located today. The share itself, printed by Hermann Springer in Leipzig, is very beautifully illustrated by Mathieu Molitor (1873-1929), a successful painter, sculptor and graphic artist. His works sell in art auctions around the World. Molitor's most famous works are the memorial for Ernst Pinkert in the Leipzig Zoo and the Faust-Mephisto group at the entrance of "Auerbach's Cellar" in Leipzig (today the city's most famous restaurant, partly because it appeared in Goethe's play Faust, as the first place Mephistopheles took Faust on their travels). We see on the share amongst other things two pretty, bare-breasted women, a vignette of an airplane, an automobile, the arms of the city of Mülhausen (a ships wheel) and the symbol of Alsace, a stork. (A more detailed company history can be obtained from us.) In conclusion, what we offer here is an important piece of German aviation history: it concerns the first German airplane manufacturer (founded 1909) with the oldest share (dated 1917) we've ever seen from such a German company. Moreover, the firm was of great importance (especially during WWI), and spread its wings internationally, also in the automobile business. Only two pieces were found. Rarity 11.
Condition Report: VF-EF