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Allarme Generale de Habitans de Gonesse

 Digital Record
Identifier: VBI_000244


  • Creation: c. 1783

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

The first hydrogen-filled balloon was launched from the Champ de Mars in Paris by J.A.C. Charles with Jean and Noël Robert on August 27, 1783. Benjamin Franklin and John Quincy Adams were two witnesses to this launch. When a skeptical viewer commented that the balloon seemed to be of little use, Franklin famously remarked, “What is the use of a new born babe?” Following the attack of the fallen balloon by surprised villagers in Gonesse, French court officials ordered an edict that crafts descending from the sky were likely balloons and should not be treated as supernatural entities.

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Originals

Box 10

Related Materials


Physical Description

Art on Paper


25.6 x 37.8 cm

General Note

Etching and engraving depicting villagers from Gonesse, France attacking the first gas balloon with pitchforks and other weapons, after it descended in the center of their town on August 27, 1783. A caption describes the event and the balloon and mistakenly identifies it as belonging to Montgolfier, though it had been designed and launched by J.A.C. Charles and constructed by M.N. and Jean Robert.

Sources used for Biographical/Historical note

Crouch, Tom D., The Eagle Aloft, Two Centuries of the Balloon in America (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1983)

Repository Details

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

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
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