Observation of a foghorn allegedly led S. Albert Reed to a better way to generate acoustic noise with electric motors whirling duralumin vanes. In 1920 neighboring Curtiss employees challenged Reed to instead design lightweight, but strong and efficient aeronautical propellers made from duralumin.
The Reed Propeller Company was formed as a subsidiary of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company in 1924. By early-1926, its products were used in more than eighty engine and airframe combinations, and Reed was awarded the Collier Trophy for 1925. However, with daily use by the U.S. Air Mail Service and others, it became apparent that his propeller was structurally unsound and, with its inability to vary pitch, the concept did not survive the 1920s.
This early flat-blade artifact is from the personal collection of Herman J. Schonenberg, a Grumman employed historian, and was apparently obtained as a "habitue" of Roosevelt Field, Long Island, NY, where Curtiss had a plant.