'The aerostatic Globe', 1783.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Coloured etching of Charles and Robert's aerostatic globe. Designed by Jacques Charles (1746-1823), a French profesor of physics, and constructed by the brothers Jean and Noel Robert, this balloon carried Charles and Noel Robert on the first manned free flight of a hydrogen balloon on 1 December 1783. The balloon set off from the garden of the Tuilleries at 1.40pm in front of a crowd of 400,000, landing two hours later at Nesle-la-Vallee, between Nesle and Hedouville, 27 miles (43 km) outside Paris. Robert alighted here but Charles re-ascended in the balloon, reaching an altitude of over 9000 feet (2.7 km). The balloon carried a barometer and a thermometer on board to make measurements of the atmosphere at a height above the ground. Dimensions: 295mm x 241mm.