Van Lear Black Collection - PP153

Collection finding aids of Photograph Collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Maryland Historical Society Library

ca. 1925-1930


Prints and Photographs Division, Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument St.
Baltimore, MD 21201


Finding aid created by Katherine Cowan with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, December 1999



Van Lear Black (1875-1930) was a Baltimore banker and businessman turned civil aviation pioneer. From 1915 until his death in 1930, he was chairman of the board of the A.S. Abell Company, Sunpapers publishers.

In 1927, Black undertook a plane journey around the world to prove the viability of civil air flight, with a Fokker plane chartered from the Royal Dutch Airline, K.L.M. His crew consisted of K.L.M. staff: chief pilot G.J. Geysendorffer, copilot J.B. Sholte, and mechanic Peter Bunk, as well as Black's personal secretary, J. Leo Bayline. Additional trips were made over several years time, some combining air and ship travel. In 1930, Black and crew took a new plane, the Maryland Free State, from London across Europe and Asia to Batavia (now Jakarta) in Java, Indonesia. Traveling a total of 200,000 miles in five years, Black's trips were the first intercontinental flights of such length for purely civilian purposes.

Black died suddenly in 1930, apparently falling from the afterdeck of his yacht Sabala in rough water enroute to Baltimore following an excursion to New York.

Collection Origin

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon M. Holland, 1991 (003717).

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 1 box with 16 folders containing 34 photoprints made from ca. 1925-1930. Subjects are primarily Black's plane and boat travels, including maps of his air route London-South Africa-Japan. There are photographs of him and his crew with the Fokker aircraft and at sites in Europe, Asia and Africa including the Acropolis in Greece, pyramids of Egypt, Rhodesia and Siam. There are pictures of the Dinka tribe in the Sudan, Africa.

Other travel documents include photographs of ships and aircraft: the maiden voyage of Japanese cruise ship Tatsuta Maru, the Maryland Free State airplane and wreck, and the yacht Sabola. There is also a also pictures of Black and his wife in Eskimo clothing given them by Richard E. Bird.

Note: The collection contains one piece printed ephemera: sheet music to "Hello Batavia" with William Swapp's autograph; and one map which is kept with the Rolled Maps.


The photographs are arranged according to PP catalog numbers.

Container List

1 Box

Box 1: 16 folders

Folder 1
PP153.1 - Route map showing accomplished and projected flights by Van Lear Black, with photos of Black, Gerrit Geysendorffer and J.B. Sholte inset, 1928.

Folder 2
PP153.2 - Cartoon of Van Lear Black, Geysendorffer, Sholte, and J. Leo Bayline, ca. 1930.

Folder 3
PP153.3 - Billy Barton jumping fence, ca. 1930.

PP153.4 - Rider dismounting Billy Barton, ca. 1930.

Folder 4
PP153.5 - Black and wife in Eskimo costume, ca. 1925.

PP153.6 - Van Lear Black, portrait, ca. 1925.

Folder 5
PP153.7 - J. Leo Bayline at Leipzig, June 12, 1927.

PP153.8 - Black and crew at Bangkok Airdrome, 1927.

Folder 6
PP153.9 - Black and crew at Nuremburg, 1927.

PP153.10 - Black and crew in London (?), 1927.

Folder 7
PP153.11 - Black, Geysendorffer, Sholte, Bayline, and Peter Bunk, 1927.

PP153.12 - Black with Geysendorffer and Sholte, 1927.

Folder 8
PP153.13 - Black and crew with Siamese officials, June 29, 1927.

Folder 9
PP153.14 - J. Leo Bayline at the Acropolis, 1928.

PP153.15 - The Pyramids, Egypt, 1928.

PP153.16 - Dinkas in the Sudan, 1928.

PP153.17 - Three Dinkas, 1928.

PP153.18 - J. Leo Bayline in Rhodesia, 1928.

Folder 10
PP153.19 - Black and crew in Tunis, Feb. 17, 1930.

PP153.20 - Van Lear Black in front of Maryland Free State.

Folder 11
PP153.21-.22 - Maryland Free State, Croyden Airport, London, ca. 1930. Dup/copy neg Z24.1427.

Folder 12
PP153.23 - J. Leo Bayline and Rene MacColl in front of Maryland Free State in Assawan, Egypt, 1928.

Folder 13
PP153.24 - S.S. Reliance in Honolulu Harbor, May 1, 1930.

PP153.25 - Dinner on the Tatsuta Maru, April 30, 1930.

PP153.26 - Official ceremony at Tokyo welcoming Van Lear Black, 1930.

PP153.27 - Official ceremony on Tatsuta Maru, 1930.

Folder 14
PP153.28-.29 - Tatsuta Maru, 1930.

Folder 15
PP153.30 - Crash of Maryland Free State, 1929.

PP153.31 - J. Leo Bayline on yacht Sabola, Oct. 29, 1929.

PP153.32 - J. Leo Bayline on yacht Sabola, 1927.

Folder 16
PP153.33 - Crew of yacht Sabola, ca. 1927.

PP153.34 - Yacht Sabola, ca. 1927. © 2001 Maryland Historical Society - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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