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Author Topic: did the Wright brothers spin tops?  (Read 293 times)

the Earl of Whirl

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did the Wright brothers spin tops?
« on: March 09, 2019, 12:12:00 AM »

I started a thread back in 2010 questioning whether Leonardo da Vinci threw tops.  It seemed to make sense to me but it took us over 8 1/2 years to find proof.  Now I am starting another thread about some historical characters and whether they were top spinners or not.  This time, though, I am starting off with more information.

We love Wilbur and Orville around these parts.  Many things are named after these great inventors of flight.  Many books are also written about them.  Just recently a spinner from our congregation said I should look at page 150 and 151 in the David McCullough book about them.  There is some amazing  information on those pages I never knew.  In 1907 they were in Paris getting ready to do some flight demonstrations but in their personal time they liked to go to the Tuileries gardens and watch the people involved in the new craze.  It was diabolo spinning.  And they liked to join in and became pretty good at it.  Did you know any of this, Jim?

Based on their fascination with toys and spinning things I am pretty sure they also threw tops.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2019, 07:06:07 AM by the Earl of Whirl »
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jim in paris

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Re: did the Wright brothers spin tops?
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2019, 02:19:32 PM »

salut Mike !

I haven't found anything yet related to the wright brothers
they liked to go to the Tuileries gardens and watch the people involved in the new craze.  It was diabolo spinning.  And they liked to join in and became pretty good at it.  Did you know any of this, Jim?
 well besides their flights days in france in 1907-1908, nothing relevant to a spinning activity
I will ask Renaud  who runs the musée du diabolo if he has any info

so long

jim
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the Earl of Whirl

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Re: did the Wright brothers spin tops?
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2019, 09:28:11 AM »

Wow!  There is a musee du diabolo?  How cool is that!!!
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jim in paris

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the Earl of Whirl

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Re: did the Wright brothers spin tops?
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2019, 11:02:24 AM »

On page 137 of the David McCullough book it says "From London down to Dover, then across the Channel, Wilber and Berg were joined by another Flint executive, Frank Cordley.  They arrived in Paris on the evening of May 27 (1907), when it was still daylight, and checked into the luxurious Hotel Meurice on the rue de Rivoli.  "The Tuileries Palace and the Louvre are only a couple of squares to our left," Wilbur reported that same night to Katherine and the family.  "The column Vendrome is behind us, and the Place de la Concorde and Arc de Triomphe are farther up the Champs-Elysees.  We are right in the most beautiful and interesting part of the city.

He was also residing in one of the finest hotels in all Paris, indeed, in all Europe.  The "New Hotel Meurice," as said, had only just reopened after major "refurbishments."  The old "Hotel of Kings" had been made more sumptuous than ever.  Its restaurants, in décor and cuisine, was now one of the finest in the city and a "rendezvous of fashion."  One could take a magnificent new elevator to a roof garden, and for panoramic views of Parish there were few to compare, or, for that matter, from those guest rooms fonting on the rue de Rivoli, one of which, room 329, Hart Berg had reserved for Wilbur.

"Stay in Paris and taste the pervasive charm, the freshness of beautiful summer nights.  The sky dusted with stars is radiant," read an advertisement for the Meurice.

Page 147 "Early on a Sunday morning in late July, the brothers were reunited.  Having enjoyed an uneventful crossing on the steamer Philadelphia, Orville succeeded in finding his way to the Meurice, where he discovered Wilbur looking better than he had in years.

Page 149 "In mid-August, when it looked as though French interest in an agreement had revived, Wilbur and Berg returned from Berlin.  Still there was no real progress with the French.  Nor had there been with the Germans.  In early September the brothers had little to do but bide their time, and to judge from what Orville recorded, they had become occupied primarily with sitting in he park watching the passing parade.  If Wilbur had his Louvre, Orville had the garden of the Tuileries.

"You need not worry about me missing the use of the front porch," Orville wrote to Katherine, "I spend at least half of my time while awake in the park across from the hotel."  There were hundreds of little iron chairs in the park, the rent for which was 2 cents a day, he explained.  "A number of women are employed in going about to pounce down on every unsuspecting chap that happens to be occupying a chair and to collect the two cents."

The top of page 150 says....He especially enjoyed watching the French children, amazed by how well behaved they were.

The bottom of page 150 has this......Greatest by far was the spectacle of seeing so many - children, men and women of all ages - playing with "diabolo," a simple, age-old toy that had lately become all the rage.
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the Earl of Whirl

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Re: did the Wright brothers spin tops?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2019, 12:19:33 AM »

The top of page 151.....The whole course of their lives, they liked to say, had begun in childhood with a toy, and a French toy at that, and now here they were in middle age in France, enjoying themselves no less than if they were children still.  With the diabolo the magic was not that the toy itself flew, as did Alphonse Penaud's helicopter.  Here you yourself had to overcome the force of gravity with skill.  You had to learn the trick by practice, and more practice, with the sticks and string, to keep the spool flying - just as an airplane was not enough in itself, one had to master the art of flying.

The time the brothers devoted to playing diabolo so publicly did not go unnoticed and added still more to the growing puzzlement over les freres mysterieux.  The "mystery" of the Wrights, wrote the Paris Herald, remained as dense as ever, and quoted an American visitor who frequently observed them in the garden of the Tuileries and became convinced they had laid aside their flying machine and quit thinking about it.  "Everybody knows," the man had said, "that when a person has contracted the diabolo habit he cannot possibly attend to anything else."

Apparently the brothers caught on quickly to the diabolo art and became quite good at it.  But as for Charlie Taylor, the spool kept falling to the ground nine tries out of ten......

Sister Katherine felt they could be doing some more constructive things like learning some French.  "His sense of humor plainly in play again, Orville told her he had indeed met a Frenchman in the park who spoke English, but that he thought it hopeless to try to learn both diabolo and French at the same time."
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 12:21:35 AM by the Earl of Whirl »
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ta0

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Re: did the Wright brothers spin tops?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2019, 04:47:40 PM »

To dream and create the first heavier-than-air flying machine you have to have the curiosity and wonder of a child. I'm not surprised that they got hooked with the diabolo.
I'm certain they played tops, but it might be very difficult to find specific proof.
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