Expérience de la Machine Aréostatique

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    Print, Engraving on Paper, Colored, EXPÉRIENCE DE LA MACHINE ARÉOSTATIQUE

    Expérience de la Machine Aréostatique, August 27, 1783. Vue d'optique print depicts a scene of a mass crowd watching J.A.C. Charles' first small hydrogen balloon, popularly known as "The Globe," taking off from Champ de Mars in Paris, France. The École Militaire is visible to the front. The site is now the location of the Eiffel Tower. It was on this occasion that Benjamin Franklin overheard another onlooker remark that while the balloon was interesting, it was of little practical value. Franklin responded with one of the most famous of his bon mottes: "Of what use is a new borne babe?" Captions below the image are in both French and German. A Vue d'optique print such as this is used in a device called a zograscope, which gives the viewer a sense of depth perception and a perspective view.

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    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Print, Engraving on Paper, Colored, EXPÉRIENCE DE LA MACHINE ARÉOSTATIQUE

    Expérience de la Machine Aréostatique, August 27, 1783. Vue d'optique print depicts a scene of a mass crowd watching J.A.C. Charles' first small hydrogen balloon, popularly known as "The Globe," taking off from Champ de Mars in Paris, France. The École Militaire is visible to the front. The site is now the location of the Eiffel Tower. It was on this occasion that Benjamin Franklin overheard another onlooker remark that while the balloon was interesting, it was of little practical value. Franklin responded with one of the most famous of his bon mottes: "Of what use is a new borne babe?" Captions below the image are in both French and German. A Vue d'optique print such as this is used in a device called a zograscope, which gives the viewer a sense of depth perception and a perspective view.

    2 of 3

    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

    View Manifest

    View in Mirador Viewer

    Print, Engraving on Paper, Colored, EXPÉRIENCE DE LA MACHINE ARÉOSTATIQUE

    Expérience de la Machine Aréostatique, August 27, 1783. Vue d'optique print depicts a scene of a mass crowd watching J.A.C. Charles' first small hydrogen balloon, popularly known as "The Globe," taking off from Champ de Mars in Paris, France. The École Militaire is visible to the front. The site is now the location of the Eiffel Tower. It was on this occasion that Benjamin Franklin overheard another onlooker remark that while the balloon was interesting, it was of little practical value. Franklin responded with one of the most famous of his bon mottes: "Of what use is a new borne babe?" Captions below the image are in both French and German. A Vue d'optique print such as this is used in a device called a zograscope, which gives the viewer a sense of depth perception and a perspective view.

    3 of 3

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

The Birth of Flight: NASM Collections

The invention of the balloon struck the men and women of the late 18th century like a thunderbolt. Enormous crowds gathered in Paris to watch one balloon after another rise above the city rooftops, carrying the first human beings into the air in the closing months of 1783.The excitement quickly spread to other European cities where the first generation of aeronauts demonstrated the wonder of flight. Everywhere the reaction was the same. In an age when men and women could fly, what other wonders might they achieve.

"Among all our circle of friends," one observer noted, "at all our meals, in the antechambers of our lovely women, as in the academic schools, all one hears is talk of experiments, atmospheric air, inflammable gas, flying cars, journeys in the sky." Single sheet prints illustrating the great events and personalities in the early history of ballooning were produced and sold across Europe. The balloon sparked new fashion trends and inspired new fads and products. Hair and clothing styles, jewelry, snuffboxes, wallpaper, chandeliers, bird cages, fans, clocks, chairs, armoires, hats, and other items, were designed with balloon motifs.

Thanks to the generosity of several generations of donors, the National Air and Space Museum maintains one of the world's great collections of objects and images documenting and celebrating the invention and early history of the balloon. Visitors to the NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport can see several display cases filled with the riches of this collection. We are pleased to provide visitors to our web site with access to an even broader range of images and objects from this period. We invite you to share at least a small taste of the excitement experienced by those who witness the birth of the air age.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum