Ace Pilots & Candy Bars
An incredible rarity in that it survived at all, this 1930s vintage gouache painting is the original artwork for one card of 50 in the Famous Aeroplanes, Pilots & Airports series that was produced by Mars Confections Ltd which were quite similar to so-called cigarette cards popular during the same era. This specific set of cards were offered inside the wrappers on Milky Way candy bars. The original artwork actually quite small and measures 5 ¼ inches high by 2 ½ inches wide (13.3cm x 6.5cm) while the card on which the artwork was reproduced at half that size.
Above: The original gouache illustration of James “Jim” Allan Mollison (left) as rendered by a now-forgotten artist and use to produce the collector’s card at right. The original artwork measures a diminutive 5 1/4 inches high by 2 1/2 inches high, about twice the size of the card. c. 1937 Source: Both items from the collection of Edward T. Garcia.
James Allan “Jim” Mollison (born in 1905) was a well-known record-setting Scottish aviator who was married to equally well-known aviatrix Amy Johnson. Both Mollison and Johnson spent their careers attempting to set new aviation records and taking part in various competitions. In many ways, Amy Johnson outshone her husband in the media and in the public imagination. She was created a Companion of the British Empire in 1930. The couple divorced in 1939. She was killed during World War Two in a crash while serving with the Air Transport Auxiliary. Mollison also served with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the war and later, after leaving flying, an opened a public house in London. He died in 1959.
Above: Amy Johnson and Jim Mollison as both appeared in the Mars Confections Ltd. issue of Famous Aeroplanes, Pilots & Airports. c. 1937 Source: The collection of Edward T. Garcia.
Above: Amy Johnson and Jim Mollison pose in flight suits in front of their long-distance racer, a de Havilland DH.88 Comet named “Black Magic”. At the time the couple was taking part in the 1933 MacRobertson Air Race from England to Australia. They were forced to drop out at Karachi due to engine trouble. The couple was known to an adoring British public as “the flying sweethearts”. This photo, which originally appeared in The Aeroplane magazine obviously served as the model for the above-pictured cards.
Above: The reverse sides of Johnson and Mollison’s Famous Aeroplanes, Pilots & Airports cards which a short biographical sketch of each pilot. The latest date – 1937 – helps to date the cards. c. 1937 Source: The collection of Edward T. Garcia.