Paris: [Chardon for] Cuchet, 1783.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Near Fine. Item #001996
1783-1784. 2 volumes, 8vo (204x127 mm). Vol. 1: [i-iii] iv-xl,  2-299, ,  pp., 9 engraved plates (plate v as frontispiece), folding table; Vol. 2: ,  2-24, *24-24*, 25-62,  68-366,  pp., 5 engraved plates (plate I as frontispiece). Contemporary green paste paper boards (light chipping along spine and edges). Internally crisp, with only very minor occasional spotting and toning, offsetting to a few plates, title and frontispiece of vol. 2 slightly soiled, leaves partially untrimmed. Provenance: Gaston Tissandier (ex-libris to front paste-downs); Aéro-club de France (ex-libris stamp and affixed deaccession card to first fly-leaves). A fine, wide margined set with interesting provenance. ----
Dibner, Heralds of Science 179; PMM 229; Norman 769; Sparrow, Milestones of Science 179; Tissandier p.21 (this copy). - FIRST EDITION, second issue, with the four page supplement.
"THE FIRST SERIOUS TREATISE ON AEROSTATION AS A PRACTICAL POSSIBILITY" (Printing and the Mind of Man), a detailed historical and technical account of the first balloon flights carried out in 1783 by the brothers Etienne and Joseph de Montgolfier, written by one of their principal sponsors, the geologist Faujas de Saint-Fond. The first successful balloon ascent took place in Annonay on June 5, 1783 using the Montgolfiere' technique of heating air with a straw fire sufficiently to make the balloons rise. Although subscribers preferred the hydrogen balloons invented by the physicist Jacques-A.-C. Charles, whose first launch was a 13-foot balloon from the Champ-de-Mars in August 1783, the Montgolfiers created a sensation by sending up ever more populated hot-air balloons; a trio of farm animals were the first mammals to fly, on September 19, and the first manned ascent followed two months later, on November 20, when Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes ascended from the Bois de Boulogne and crossed Paris, covering a total distance of 5 1/2 miles in approximately 20 minutes. (Rozier was later killed in an attempted balloon crossing of the English Channel.) The second volume contains accounts of later balloon flights, all inspired by the Montgolfiers' initial successes - "their experiments were so successful, and so decisive, that it is inarguably to them that we owe all of the experiments that followed" (vol. 2, pp. 1-2) - including the first flight of a passenger-carrying hydrogen balloon, designed and manned by Jacques Charles, who on December 1, 1783 made a two-hour ascent from Paris, landing near a village 27 miles distant (this trip was also largely underwritten by Faujas de Saint-Fond). Charles's hydrogen balloon, constructed with the aid of the celebrated artisans the Robert brothers, formed the prototype for later modern balloon construction.
The copy of Gaston Tissandier (1843-1899), French chemist, meteorologist and aviaton pioneer. He founded and edited the scientific magazine La Nature and wrote several books, including the important bibliography on aeronautics in 1887 ("Bibliographie aéronautique: Catalogue de livres d'histoire, de science, de voyages et de fantaisie, traitant de la navigation aérienne ou des aérostats"). His interest in meteorology led him to take up aviation. His first trip in the air was conducted at Calais in 1868 together with Claude-Jules Dufour, where his balloon drifted out over the sea and was brought back by an air stream of opposite direction in a higher layer of air. In September 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, he managed to leave the besieged Paris by balloon. His most adventurous airtrip took place in April 1875. Together with Joseph Croce-Spinelli and Théodore Sivel, he was able to reach in a balloon the unheard-of altitude of 8,600 metres. Both of his companions died from breathing the thin air. Tissandier survived, but became deaf. In 1883, Tissandier fit a Siemens electric motor to an airship, thus creating the first electric-powered flight. The technical problems encountered by the Montgolfiers and those who followed them are discussed by Tissandier in Histoire des ballons et des aéronautes célèbres (1887–89).
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