On today’s date in 1919, Alexander Graham Bell’s HD-4 hydrofoil set a new world water speed record of 114 km/h.
In 1947, Canada Post featured the Scottish-born inventor on a four-cent commemorative stamp (Scott #274) honouring his monumental discoveries. Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company, the deep blue stamp was designed by Herman Schwartz and engraved by Silas Allen.
With his incredible technological advancements, Bell is considered one of the most significant inventors of the 19th and 20th centuries.
He left Scotland in 1870 before settling in Brantford, where he worked on his new invention, the telephone, from 1874-76.
According to Robert Bruce’s 1973 book Alexander Graham Bell and the Conquest of Solitude, Bell’s first hydrofoil, the HD-1, reached speeds of 72 km/h in 1911. The next year, it achieved speeds of 80 km/h.
Bell’s next hydrofoil, the HD-2, broke apart before it could set any further records. The HD-3 was built the following year; however, a moratorium was imposed on hydrofoil development by the start of the First World War.
Finally, in 1919—at a time when the world’s fastest steamship couldn’t even reach 50 km/h—the HD-4 set a world record of 114 km/h.
A. G. BELL
In 1936, Bell was also listed first on the U.S. Patent Office’s list of great inventors, leading to the U.S. Post Office issuing a commemorative stamp featuring Bell in 1940 as part of its Famous Americans series.
He died in Nova Scotia in 1922 at the age of 75.