Medal commemorating Montgolfier balloon flight at Lyon, France, 1784.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Medal struck to commemorate the flight of 'Le Flesselles', at Lyon which carried seven people on 19 January 1784. The Montgolfier brothers named the balloon 'Le Flesselles' in honour of the Governor of Lyons who had sponsored the project. It was 131 feet high and 104 feet in diameter with a capacity of more than 700,000 cubic feet. The ascent was watched by over 100,000 people. The balloon reached a height of 3000 feet before a large tear in the fabric resulted in a rapid descent which left the seven aeronauts shaken but unhurt. The design shows the allegorical figure of Genius riding on a lion and writing on a tablet. The inscription reads: 'Que ne peut le Genie' (What can Genius not achieve). To the left is the launch gantry with the balloon above. Design by Nicolas-Marie Gatteaux (1751-1832).