Vincent Lunardi, Italian aeronaut and balloonist, 1787.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Hand-coloured etching and stipple engraving showing a 'Representation of Mr Lunardi making an experiment on the Thames, of his invention, to save persons from drowning.' Vincent (or Vincenzo) Lunardi (1759-1806) was an Italian diplomat who, on 15 September 1784, made the first British ascent in a hydrogen balloon. Here, he is paddling a tub in the River Thames with an oar, a Union Jack flying behind him. Dimensions: 305 x 420mm.