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Theatre of Grand Philosophical Recreations...Garnerin

 Digital Record
Identifier: VBI_000140


  • c. 1815

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

Aeronaut André Jacques Garnerin (1769-1823) made the world's first successful parachute jump from a balloon on October 22, 1797 over the park of Moncau in Paris. He had formulated his plans for the parachute and descent while a prisoner of war in Hungary during the French revolution. In 1798, Garnerin's wife, Jeanne-Genevieve Garnerin (1779-1847), became the first woman to make a parachute jump, and his niece Elisa Garnerin (1800-1845) was also an aeronaut. Garnerin made approximately 200 successful jumps in his career before dying on August 18, 1823 after a beam struck him on the head while he was preparing balloon equipment.

In 1814 and 1815, Garnerin held lecture-demonstrations of electrical phenomena and balloons called "Theatre of Philosophical Recreations" which featured phantasmagoria effects achieved through a combination of scientific technology and special effects.

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Originals

Box 6

Physical Description



25.2 x 17.7 cm

General Note

Broadside advertising a “Theatre of Grand Philosophical Recreations” by André-Jaques Garnerin, including experiments with chemistry, fireworks and electricity. Pencil notation in upper right reads “1815?”

Sources used for Biographical/Historical note

Crouch, Tom D., Lighter Than Air, An Illustrated History of Balloons and Airships, (Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore), 44.

During, Simon, Modern Enchantments, the Cultural Power of Secular Magic, (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2002), 252-254.

Hodgson, J.E., History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (Oxford University Press, London, 1924), 218-223.

Rolt, L.T.C., The Aeronauts: A History of Ballooning 1783-1903 (1966), 105-109.

Repository Details

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

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
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