'The Amusements of Paris', 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Coloured print. The pioneering brothers, Joseph Michel (1740-1810) and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier (1745-1799) were the first to demonstrate hot-air ballooning in June 1783, but another Frenchman, Jacques Charles (1746-1823) was close on their heels with his invention of the hydrogen balloon. Filling a balloon with the lifting gas hydrogen was a more efficient way to make a balloon rise than using hot air. After Charles' made the first succesful ascent in a hydrogen balloon from the Tuilleries on 1 December 1783 in front of a crowd of over 400,000, Paris developed a craze for ballooning, particularly the flying of miniature balloons. Eventually, there were so many miniature balloons flying about the city that the authorities were forced to isue an order prohibiting them.