Medal commemorating Charles and Robert's balloon ascent, Paris, 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Medal struck to commemorate the first hydrogen-filled balloon ascent. After the pioneering Montgolfier brothers' success, Jacques Charles (1746-1823), a French professor of physics, joined forces with two local craftsmen, Anne-Jean and Marie-Noel Robert, to produce a superior balloon. The unmanned balloon they constructed (called 'The Globe') was just 12 feet in diameter. It was made of silk with an inpermeable rubberised coating to contain the lifting gas hydrogen. It ascended from the Champ de Mars on 27 August 1783 and rose 3000 feet before falling to the ground at Gonesse, 24 km away. A subscription organised by Barthelemy Faujas de Saint-Fond funded the ascent. The medal shows the balloon above Paris.