First edition of the first ballooning book to contain illustrations that depict the overhead aerial view from within the balloon.
"Midway between Enlightenment and Romanticism" – ROMANTIC CIRCLES
In September of 1785, Baldwin convinced the flamboyant aerial pioneer Lunardi to lend his balloon for a day so that Baldwin could sketch the world from above. The resulting plates capture the Romantic fascination with scientific innovation and its aesthetic potential with views that are "hyper-sublime" (ROMANTIC CIRCLES): one engraving depicts the landscape below in the quilt-like appearance we associate with flying today; another shows the balloon as a tiny speck within a picturesque landscape; the most stunning takes a cosmographical approach, centering provincial Chester amid a sphere of clouds.
The accompanying text is filled with scientific details, including much practical information for other balloonists in planning future ascents, but interspersed with emotional moments reminiscent of the accounts of the first astronauts: "A Tear of pure Delight flashed in his Eye! of pure and exquisite Delight and Rapture." A moving document of a philosophical, aesthetic, and scientific turning point.
Read more: "A View from the Balloon at its Greatest Elevation," Romantic Circles.
Chester: Printed for the Author, by J. Fletcher, 1786. Long title: Airopaidia: containing the Narrative of a balloon excursion [...] The whole serving as an introduction to aerial navigation. Octavo in fours. 8.25'' x 4.5''. Contemporary half red goatskin, marbled paper boards, raised bands, gilt-stamped and -lettered spine. Half title. Illustrated with one full-page engraving and three folding, two of which hand-colored. , xi, 361,  pages (361 misnumbered 360). Modern bookplate on front pastedown. Edge of first plate just cropped, affecting last letter of label but not image itself. Just a bit of bumping and faint edgewear to binding, some offsetting to endpapers.
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