World War I Air Corps Archive
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 7
Appraisal Video: (3:25)
Books & Manuscripts
Brattle Book Shop
GUEST: Well, four years ago my wife and I went to a yard sale and they had a footlocker. My wife pointed it out and said, "Will y'all sell that?" So we bought the footlocker for $10, we opened it up, and we had this material that's First Lieutenant named Joe McClinton who died in World War I, who was a pilot. He is from Texas, and we have his whole history from his journal where he left America until ten days 'til he died. He was an amazing man.
APPRAISER: Well, he was basically a photo reconnaissance, so in other words, in World War I he was going over and taking pictures.
GUEST: Well, he writes how it is to be shot at, how he can feel the wind blowing across his hair with the bullets going across. Like the second flight he took, he crashed his aircraft. He survived, didn't get hurt, but he ruined an aircraft. But you know, he was a nice guy.
APPRAISER: Of course, he was one of the early aviators from the Texas area.
GUEST: Air Corps.
APPRAISER: Air Corps. I guess he got drafted out of college-- not drafted, but recruited.
GUEST: Well, he volunteered when they came down for him.
APPRAISER: Then he went over to Europe.
GUEST: He went to France, and that's where... he was there for I think a year and a half, and then until he crashed his aircraft and died in a dogfight.
APPRAISER: First of all, let's point out a few of the things that you have here. This is a two-volume diary.
APPRAISER: This is his handwritten account…
APPRAISER: …Of what he was doing day by day. And I found it fascinating looking at the sections, reading about how they were flying, what they were flying. And when you get into diaries of military war, a lot of them are just boring, to be quite honest.
APPRAISER: But this one, you sort of feel like you're in the plane with him. So you have two volumes: one is still in the binding, one obviously out. But they're filled, they're wonderful. Explain what this picture is.
GUEST: This picture right here is in France. When you perished, they buried you right away because there was no way to preserve you. So he stayed buried for three years, then they unburied him and brought him back home. And this is the props of his aircraft.
APPRAISER: The letter we have here is from... essentially back to his family telling them what happened.
APPRAISER: That he was out, he was on a mission, he was incredibly brave, other planes were shot down in the mission. He had five planes come after him, which is essentially what shot him down.
APPRAISER: A lot of Americans in World War I signed up for the Air Corps. Most of them, though, only stayed in the United States. This man went overseas. That brings the level of the value up. He was in combat. That brings it up a little bit more.
APPRAISER: He wrote very, very well. That increases it a little bit more. And then very important when we start getting to the value of this collection is that he won the Distinguished Service Cross. I mean that is a major, major medal. I would say a collection like this, being very conservative, is probably in the $5,000 to $7,000...on a ten dollar investment.
GUEST: Yes. I'm ecstatic, I'm ecstatic. I'm about to turn red-faced right now. I appreciate it.
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