Ref NoPER/106
TitleSerge Vincent de Bolotoff, Prince Wiazemsky/Viazemsky
DescriptionBusiness and personal items of aviation pioneer de Bolotoff, who until circa 1920 was known as Serge Vincent de Bolotoff and thereafter as Serge Vincent Constantinovitch, Prince Wiazemsky/Viazemsky but who is referred to through this collection as de Bolotoff.

Serge de Bolotoff was born in Bulgaria 1888, he died in 1955. He claimed to be the fifth man to have flown an aeroplane and was an aviation pioneer (up to about 1919), who had ambitions to win the Daily Mail competition to be the first person to cross the English Channel. He was active in his field and even argued in The Times, 21 Dec 1908 against Sir Henry Maxim's claims that aeroplanes could be used by an invading force (he argued they could not but had the potential to be deadly in other ways). In 1906 he designed a combined clutch and gear lever for automobiles, probably the first in a long line of engineering inventions ['The Automobile' 5 Jul 1906].

He came to the UK with his mother, Maria the Princess Wiasemsky, and family, including his brother George with whom he went into business. Princess Maria Wiasemsky suffered from monetry difficulties, especially as her Russian income, which included a trust from the Tsar, experienced difficultiesdue to her staus as married women in Imperial law and to her (inferred) seperation from her husband. De Bolotoff represented her in court; she was declared insane sometime before Oct 1913. It was through her that funds were secured from WT Stead (it was claimed he had given her £27,000 in total) to support the building of de Bolotoff's competition triplane in France (Stead later launched a claim against Princess Wiasemsky in the High Court of Justice, our information being taken from the court proceedings 27 Jan 1912). This triplane's first flight was witnessed by Princess Wiasemsky and Stead at Châlons.

George acted as best man to the wedding of de Bolotoff and Rosalie Selfridge, daughter of Harry Gordon Selfridge, 7 Aug 1918, at the Russian Embassey officiated by Most Rev Eugene Smirnoff and celebrated at Robert Mond's home Combe Bank, near Sevenoaks; they had one daughter, Tatiana, in 1919. Mond and de Bolotoff had gone into partnership in 1913, producing Voisin style triplanes and then a two seater known as the De Bolotoff SDEB 14, the failure of which led to the severing of their contact in 1919 and the collapse of the de Bolotoff Aeroplane Works. It is unclear, if this is the same outfit as the Bolotoff Company which was headed by Serge and George de Bolotoff and had manufactured munitions for the Russian Government during the First World War and had worked with the Ministry of Munitions [The Times (London, England), 1 Jun 1922]. This company, was presumably the one registered at Companies House in Sep 1911 as De Bolotoff Ltd with capital of £10 and a gaurentee of £10,000. De Bolotoff was serving as air attaché with the Russian military mission in London during the 1910s. George went through bankrupcy proceedings in 1924.

De Bolotoff also raced motor cars but an accident left him with a permenantly injured hand.

His successful invention, led to the formation of The Multi-Steering Company Limited. The device was fitted into jeeps produced by Taskers of Andover. After Serge's death, his widow Rosalie kept up the patent based on advice that it continued to perform better than newer rivals.

PER/106/1: Patents: French, Belgian, Italian and British for de Bolotoff and British for Victor Vladimirovitch Dibovsky.
PER/106/2: Multi-Steering Company Limited: papers relating to the patent as maintained by Rosalie de Bolotoff.
PER/106/3: Photographs: de Bolotoff family photographs, together with aviation and machine gun photographs.
PER/106/4: Business and personal papers: Major Craig Wheaton-Smith first contact by amatuer radio and de Bolotoff Limited papers, inclduing an agreement to use an aeroplane shed with Major Frederick Lindsay Lloyd, Brooklands Automobile Racing Club.

A note on the above: de Bolotoff is not the subject of any published histories/biographies, as such the above information has been pieced together from news reports and thus is not complete as after about 1920 there is a distinct lack of sources about his activities, although in 1933 a news story of a blaze at his residence of Wimbledon Park House was reported and articles about the coming out and activities of his daughter also appear; what we do know is that he and his wife lived with her father after about 1940 until his death.
Extent3 boxes
Physical DescriptionPaper and photographic
Access StatusOpen
CodePerson/Organisation NameDates
IME222Constantinovitch de Bolotoff; Serge Vincent (1888-1955); Prince; Aviation pinoeer1888-1955
IME224Lloyd; Frederick Lindsay (1866-1940); Major1866-1940
IME232Boult, Wade and Tennant; 1894-; Patent and trade mark specialists1894-
IME223Wheaton-Smith; Craig (1917-2014); Major; Geneticist1917-2014
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