photo credit: Anthony Lawler
,There is a scene in one of the Pixar Toy Story movies where Woody is delivered to a toy restorer who carefully sits him in a tiny barber shop style chair as though it were designed especially for such a repair and proceeds to perform a custom restoration, returning Woody to all of his former toy glory. I always found this to be a fascinating idea, that there existed professions whereby collectible artforms could be found and subsequently restored by experts to recapture a period of time where that item might have been commonplace, but was now lost to time since no one had bothered preserving (at least in any significant numbers) them. The TV show American Pickers is another example of how nostalgia for items that remind us of the not so distant past, can create a demand for what are now considered collectible items.
After the Second World War, air travel for the first time became accessible to the average person as newer and safer aircraft such as the DC-3 made it economically feasible to carry people greater distances than most had ever travelled prior to that time. Air travel agencies sprung up, and customers were lured into their offices with the promise of exotic travel on luxurious aircraft. Often, elaborate scale models of these aircraft were displayed in storefronts with cabin cutaways and rotating propellors to lure possible customers with the promise of travel to far-off destinations.
Most of the display models of the 40's, 50's and 60's were lost to time, but many examples that were stashed in backrooms or attics for later use, (only to be forgotten about), have over the years found their way back to many serious collectors who now pay prince's sums for the pleasure of owning one for themselves. Of course, years of storage also often meant deterioration and damage of the original model, but, like the professional restorer in Toy Story, there exists a small group of model restorers who owners send their prized aircraft to, in order to return them to their former glory and display them once again-but usually in a private collection rather than a travel agency window! Tom Sanders is one such expert who operates under the name "Sandman Overhauls" and who enjoys a constant flow of models sent to him by aviation enthusiasts who have typically found him through the relatively small group of collectors who understand the care and expertise he wields when restoring these models back to life. Some images below of a Tom Sanders restoration. photos courtesy of Tom Sanders.
Tom reports, "There were only a few of these produced for Pan Am and were sent to New York, Miami and San Francisco in 1938. This one was originally at the PanAm headquarters in NY in the Chrysler Building. I am still trying to locate pictures of the model on display, This model was purchased by the author, Jon Krupnick, to be restored/overhauled not only for his collection but to be featured in his latest book on the Clipper operations in the Pacific."