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Serendipitous Painting



            occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

            "a serendipitous encounter"

            synonyms: chance, accidental, coincidental;

                                lucky, fluky, fortuitous, unexpected, unforeseen

                                "our meeting was purely serendipitous"

Back in 2009 I bought the fantastic book by Gavin Will "The Big Hop" - The North Atlantic Air Race.

It was from this book I found a photo of the German built aircraft called the Dornier DO-X.

Built in 1929 by Dr. Claude Dornier it was the largest most technologically advanced aircraft in its day.

You have to remember that it was only 10 years earlier that Alcock and Brown crossed the Atlantic in a Vickers Vimy built of wood and canvas.

This thing was absolutely massive. It was of metal construction, powered by 12 engines (6 pushers, 6 pullers) and had on board a galley and smoking room. It also required a crew of 14 people to fly and during an exhibition flight carried 170 people on board. There was nothing like it in its day.


In November 1930 the crew took the plane on a promotional run to help promote the aircraft and German engineering.

The trip took them from Germany to the west coast of Africa then across the Atlantic to Brazil before flying north to Miami and eventually to New York in August of 1931. Over the winter of 1931 the DO-X was kept in New York where its under powered engines were overhauled. At this point it had been a total of 9 months since the crew left Germany.















Another 9 months went by and in May of 1932 the crew left New York for the return flight back home. 

This is where Newfoundland enters the picture. The plane was supposed to land in Holyrood for a refuelling stop but due to poor weather landed on the west side of the peninsula in Dildo. This is the photo you see in Mr. Will's book and in my painting.

When the weather improved it returned to Holyrood under much fanfare, took on fuel, supplies and mail before heading east to Southampton, England then on to Europe.


Fast forward...

Due to the success of the flight, the Dornier DO-X was eventually retired and exhibited for public viewing however during a US lead bombing run over Germany in the final months of WWII was completely destroyed and today nothing remains except for photos.

In the top left of my painting you'll see a special Newfoundland one dollar airmail stamp that was overprinted with the date and price increase for the overseas flight. I remembered the stamp and thought that including it would help connect Newfoundland to the aircraft. 

What is interesting about the artwork of the stamp are the swastikas found in the four corners. Originally when the stamp was printed in 1931 the usage of the swastika was meant as a "good luck" symbol, this is obviously before Hitler took it and made it what it represents today. Ironic after the fact that it was used for a flight on a German built plane. 

So why call it a serendipitous painting?

Well, I've searched for years for a copy of the stamp to include in my framed copy of the painting.

The Newfoundland #C12, as it's called by stamp collectors, are quite difficult to find in mint condition but more importantly, a reasonable price.

I kept checking eBay on a regular basis just in case something became available and eventually I stumbled upon the item below. 

Seriously, what are the chances? 

Here is what I know from my little bit of digging.....

Mr. A. Bradley is more than likely a distant relative as a some sort. I can trace my Bradley lineage in Newfoundland as far back as 1787 to Bonavista and prior to that the Bradley descendants definitely originated in England.

So far I haven't found out his first name and am hoping to, my father's middle name is Andrew, my great grandfather was Adam and there's an Arthur, a Allan and Angus in the family. That knowledge would be nice to know.

I contacted the Beech's Chocolate company which is still in business and asked for some information, unfortunately they found nothing for me. My guess is that they didn't try that hard.

Inside the envelope was a blank letterhead from a brokerage company in downtown St. John's, it isn't uncommon for stamp collectors to mail what's known as "First Day Covers" with the hopes of getting it back and increasing the value of the collectible due to its post mark. I doubt that the original sender reaped any benefit from my purchase some 85 years later. Someone obviously did because I paid a lot of money for it!

I did however find a picture of him when I "Googled" what little information I had. Here is the result.
















He has to be a Bradley, sure he's handsome as hell!

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