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Aerostation out at Elbows—Or the Itinerant Aeronaut

 Digital Record
Identifier: VBI_000083


  • Creation: 1785 September 5


Conditions Governing Use

Access to the Theodore Newton Vail Collection of Aeronautical Images, Broadsides and Clippings is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.

Biographical / Historical

Italian aeronaut Vincent Lunardi pioneered a method of filling a balloon with hydrogen meant as an improvement over the Montgolfier’s hot air method. Using a balloon filled with “inflammable air,” he is commonly thought to have made the first balloon flight over England.

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Originals

Box 4

Physical Description

Art on Paper


46.5 x 29.0 cm

General Note

Etching of begging aeronaut, with torn clothing, a walking stick and backpack containing a torn balloon with broken wings. Underneath is a poem titled: “Aerostation out at Elbows, or the Itinerant Aeronaut.” “Lunardi” is handwritten on the bottom right.

Source of Creator information

Keen, Paul, "The 'Balloonomania':Science and Spectacle in 1780s England," Eighteenth-Century Studies 39.4 (2006) 507-535.

Sources used for Biographical/Historical note

Grego, Joseph, Rowlandson the Caricaturist Volume 1 (London, Chatto and Windus, 1880), 163-164.

Hodgson, J.E., History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (Oxford University Press, London, 1924), 121-124.

Lunardi, Vincent. An Account of the First Aerial Voyage in England, In a Series of Letter to his Guardian, Chevalier Gherardo Compagni, Written under the Impressions of the various Events that affected the Undertaking (London, 1784)

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
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Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US