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IDENTIFIED WORLD WAR ONE ERA AVIATOR’S GOGGLES – COMPLETE SET WITH THE PILOT’S NAME – CAPTAIN ROMER SHAWHAN - INSCRIBED ON THE GOGGLES – NICE EARLY US ARMY AVIATION PIECE:  This set of early aviator’s goggles is a very special piece, identified to one of the first generation of U.S. Army Aviators who served in World War One - then Lieutenant Romer Shawhan.  Surviving with the identification intact, and originally acquired into the collector’s market in the area of Shawhan’s final home, this pair is a notable artifact of early American military aviation.   

Romer Shawhan, born July 29, 1888 in Pasadena, California, was commissioned as a lieutenant in the US Army Air Service on August 4, 1917.  One of the early pilots, Shawhan’s Pilot License carried the low number of 478. Assigned to the 147TH Aero Squadron which was formed at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, Shawhan served on the Western Front in Europe with the squadron which was designated a Day Pursuit (Fighter) Squadron as part of the 1ST Pursuit Group of the U.S. Army.  Shawhan’s fellow pilots included such luminaries as Eddie Rickenbacker and son of President Theodore Roosevelt, Quentin, who was killed in a dogfight during the Second Battle of the Marne. 

Promoted to the rank of captain during the course of his service during World War One, Shawhan served as the assistant operations officer on the staff of Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell, Chief of the US Army Air Service.  He was awarded the Pershing Army Citation, the Croix de Guerre, and the Distinguished Service Medal.  Shawhan left the army after the war on February 13, 1918, however he returned to serve during World War Two from December 19, 1940 through October 27, 1945 when he was discharged as a lieutenant colonel at Wright Patterson Air Base.   

Shawhan was a graduate of Columbia University School of Architecture, and l'Ecole des beaux Arts in Paris. He was a supervising architect and district manager of the Public Works Administration Housing Program in New York City.  He was also an accomplished and recognized artist, with numerous exhibits of his "expressionistic paintings" being featured in New York City. He married Zayda Justine Zabriskie, a well known artist in her own right, in New York City, in May of 1936.   

Between the wars, and after World War Two, Shawhan worked for a number of prestigious architectural firms, and became known for his use of marble, helping to found the Marble Institute of America which created standards of quality, design and craftsmanship in the use of marble features in building.  

Shawhan retired to Mount Vernon, New York where he died on July 16, 1970 at the age of 81, and he was interred at the Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City, Nevada. 

This set of goggles is in full form with both lenses and both head straps intact.  Of particular note, Romer Shawhan wrote his first and last name in ink, on the side panels of each eye piece.  The glass lenses are clear with no cracks or other damage.  The metal frames are in full form, show no misshaping, and they retain the original nickel plating.  The sheep skin padding on the interior edges of the eye pieces is fully intact, is still soft, and the fur still retains much of the original loft.  The woven material which covers the sides of the eye pieces has suffered some damage over time, probably due to poor storage where moths or other vermin attacked the perspiration residue in the cloth.  While the cloth is still holding its form, as can be seen in the photographs below, there are holes, some of which has damaged the characters of the first name “ROMER”.  Fortunately, the last name “SHAWHAN” survived in the majority and is still fully legible.  The leather bridge and head strap tabs are original and are naturally soft with no hardening or stiffening due to age or soiling, and they retain their original light brown color.  The bridge shows evidence of having been resewn where it had become separated from the edges of the eye pieces.  The head straps are full length with no damage or significant wear, and they retain their clean original khaki color.  The adjustment slide buckle and the hook and eye fasteners are still present and functional.     

Not all that common, these early aviation goggles are very collectible, and with the added value of being identified to one of the early US Army Aviators who served in the skies over the Western Front, this set would be a fine addition to your collection.  (0528)  $250

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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