Description des experiences de la machine aerostatique de MM. de Montgolier. . . .Premiere suite de la description des experiences aerostatqiues MM. de Montgolfier. 2 volumes

Publisher Information: Paris: 1783-84.

The First Aerial Voyage


Faujas de Saint-Fond, Barthélemy (1743-1819). Description des expériences de la machine aerostatique de MM. Montgolfier, et de celles auxquelles cette découverte a donné lieu. [Vol. ii: Première suite de la description des expériences aérostatiques de MM. Montgolfier, et de celles auxquelles cette découverte a donné lieu.] 2 vols., 8vo. xl, 299, [7]; [2], 366, [2, errata] pp. 14 plates. Paris: Cuchet, 1783-1784. 192 x 122 mm. Uniformly bound in marbled calf c. 1784, gilt spine, raised bands, heads and tails of spines almost invisibly repaired. Signed at the beginning of each volume: “G. Goury Ing. des P et Ch.”; this most likely refers to Guillaume-Edme-Charles Goury (1768-1834), an engineer with the Ponts et Chaussées (Corps of Bridges and Roads) in Paris from 1787 to 1834. Fine set, beautifully boxed.


First Edition of the first full-length account of the historic experiments with balloon flight conducted by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783. After some unsatisfactory experiments with hydrogen gas (which dissipated too quickly from their trial models), the Montgolfiers discovered that air heated to 100 degrees Celsius became sufficiently rarified to lift a balloon and did not diffuse. On 5 June 1783 the brothers released their first full-sized balloon, a paper and linen globe thirty-five feet in diameter, which rose 6,000 feet and travelled a horizontal distance of 7,668 feet from the starting point. On 19 September, before Louis XVI and the French court, they launched the first flight with living beings aboard (a sheep, a cock and a duck); and on 20 November the first manned flight took place.


The invention of the hot-air “Montgolfière,” as well as its obvious limitations, stimulated renewed research into the possibility of using hydrogen as a lifting agent. Development of the hydrogen balloon proceeded simultaneously with that of the hot-air model, and on 2 December the first passenger-carrying hydrogen balloon, designed and manned by the physicist Jacques Charles (1746-1823), ascended for a two-hour voyage.


Charles’s work was financed through the efforts of Faujas de Saint-Fond, whose account of it appears in the second volume of his work. A few copies of volume 1 were issued separately. When volume 2 was published the following year volume 1 was reissued with a 4-page supplement, describing the voyage of November 20, 1783 as in this set. Commissioner appointed by the Academy of Sciences to study the Montgolfier balloon, Lavoisier wrote a report dated December 23, 1783, which is published on pages 200-231 of volume 2. Haskell F. Norman Library 769 (with identical collation). Davy, Interpretive History of Flight pp. 37-41. Dibner, Heralds of Science 179. Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Printing and the Mind of Man 229. En français dans le texte 75. The Romance of Ballooning, pp. 14-15. Duveen & Klickstein, p. 261-262. For Goury see Tarbé de St.-Hardouin, Notices biographiques sur les ingénieurs des Ponts et Chaussées (1884), pp. 109-10. 40933

Book Id: 40933

Price: $12,500.00