[AIRSHIPS]. Airways. A Fictional Voyage from England to New York. [London, c.1920].
Die-cut shape book (40 x 20cm approx); card boards backed in cloth, upper board printed in full colour; text printed throughout in black, with illustrations in line printed in red, and four full-page and full-colour illustrations and two two-tone illustrations in black and pink; pp [xii]; very mild scattered spotting throughout, the hinges a tad weakened; the boards slightly rubbed with some small brown marks to upper board, a light splash mark to lower and one very small ink stain; 1930s gift inscription to the front paste-down; still a remarkable survival.
Plans for the R37 airship were laid down at the end of the First World War along with two others, the R33 and the later 36 class of ship. The construction was offered out to various British manufacturers at that time, and it was the The Royal Airship Works who were awarded the contract. By 1920, the R34 had already made a spectacular flight across the Atlantic and back, proving that airships were a viable commercial vehicle for transoceanic travel. However, with the downturn in the British economy immediately following the war, the Air Ministry decided that they could not afford to run the airship programme and work was halted on the R37 in 1921, despite it being 90% completed. It was dismantled a year later.
This shape book, therefore, portrays the ultimate ficticious voyage between the UK and New York. Part children's picture book, part promotional in tone, it includes beautiful full-colour lithographs advertising the large comfortable cabins with beds 'as soft and comfortable as anyone could wish', restaurant ('is there anything you would specially like to eat or drink? Whatever it is, you have only to ask the cook, and he will get it for you in a few minutes. Then you can go into the cosy dining saloon and sit by the window at a little table, and your food will be served to you by a waiter in uniform'), engine and store rooms.