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Trophy Chest, Amelia Earhart

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Display Status:

This object is on display in the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

In 1935 Amelia Earhart's husband, George Putnam, commissioned Albert Wood and Five Sons, of Port Washington, New York, to build a chest for her trophies, plaques, and memorabilia. Putnam conceived the wheel motif for the ebony feet. Wood designed the hand-carved motifs on the Burma teakwood representing three milestones: Earhart's 1932 transatlantic, 1935 Honolulu-Oakland, and 1935 Mexico City-Newark solo flights.

Collection Item Long Description:

As a gift to his wife in 1935, George Putnam, Amelia Earhart's husband, commissioned Albert Wood and Five Sons of Port Washington, New York, to build a chest for Earhart's trophies, plaques, and memorabilia. Putnam conceived the wheel motif for the ebony feet. Wood, a highly regarded furniture maker, designed the hand-carved globe motifs on the Burma teakwood chest on the front and sides for Earhart's three important milestones: her 1932 North Atlantic, 1935 Pacific, and 1935 Mexican solo flights.

Wood wrote the following about his design to Putnam:

"Besides Amelia Earhart's heroic spirit of flight, the design seeks to symbolize in line and contour the Lockheed Vega plane in which these flights were made. The wing spread on the front panel is in true scale and proportion and modeled direct from the working drawings from which the plane itself was made. The carving on the front commemorates the North Atlantic flight. On the circular border is inscribed the official distance, date, and flying time. Harbor Grace, the take-off and Londonerry, the happy landing are playfully symbolized by the codfish and the shamrock. Amelia Earhart's monogram appears in the center. In a similar manner the carving on the left end of the chest commemorates the Pacific flight and the carving on the right end the Mexican flight."

After Earhart's disappearance, the trophy chest became the property of Earhart's mother, Amy Otis Earhart, and then Earhart's sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey. In 2003, the Museum acquired the chest from Amy Morrissey Kleppner, Earhart's niece.

Hardcarved text:

North Atlantic Flight

2026.5 MI

May 21 1932

13hrs45min

The Pacific Flight

2408 MI

Jan 11 1935

18hrs16min

The Mexican Flight

2125 MI

May 8 1935

14hrs20min

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Gift of Amy Morrissey Kleppner

Materials

Burma teakwood

Dimensions

3-D: 130.2 × 59.1 × 61cm (51 1/4 × 23 1/4 × 24 in.)

Date

1935

Physical Description

Wooden chest engraved on three sides with hand-carved motifs commemorating three of Earhart's record-setting flights. Lift top. Interior tray.

Type

MEMORABILIA-Miscellaneous

Inventory Number

A20030156000