Sir Hiram S. Maxim Collection

Sir Hiram Maxim (1840-1916) was an engineer and inventor. In 1878, while serving as Chief Engineer of the United States Electric Lighting Company, he contested and lost a priority battle with Thomas Edison over the invention of the electric light. He then turned to Mechanical Engineering and invented the first efficient machine gun. The United States government was not interested in the gun, so Maxim traveled to England in 1881 and established the Maxim Gun Company. The company merged with Nordenfeldt Company (1888) and Vickers Company, which eventually formed Vickers Sons and Maxim (1896). The British War Office adopted the gun and Maxim became a British citizen (1901). In 1901 Queen Victoria knighted Maxim. Maxim experimented in aeronautics during the thirty years before his death including and wrote a number of books and articles on the subject, including 'Artificial and Natural Flight' in 1908. Maxim also built a steam-powered aircraft, the Maxim (H.S.) Flying Machine, in 1894.