Fantastic Dawn of Aviation ArchiveHistoric Archive Related to Pioneer Italian Balloonist Count Paolo Andreani Including a Letter Referencing a Balloon Ascent Nine Years Before Montgolfiers. Paolo Andreani, along with the Gerli brothers, made the first Italian hot-air balloon ascent in Milan on February 25, 1784. Andreani's flight came just a few months after the very first ever hot air balloon launch by Pilatre de Rozier, and the first manned ascent by the Montgolfier brothers. It is apparent however, that Andreani was at the very least experimenting with balloon flight some nine years before de Rozier and the Montgolfier brother's flight as evidenced by a fantastic letter in this amazing archive. The letter, in Italian, measuring 7.5" x 9" and dated February 24, 1774 is written to his brother and reads in part: "...Today we have decided to make another attempt at flight, before beginning to make some modifications to the machine since it is absolutely certain that what happened yesterday evening was due to the irregular combustion and not to the necessary maneuvers. Please keep this news for you since there is not a secure probability of a good result. I wanted only to inform you so that you don't get a surprise in case of success...Paolo". On the verso is written "Moncucco Tuesday 1774 24. Feb.". This letter might make it necessary to rewrite the early history of flight or at least add a significant footnote to aviation history.
Count Andreani's balloon ascent made quite an impression on his countrymen and included are two contemporary printed sonnets written in his honor. One, titled "Al Dedalo D' Italia" (To the Daedalus of Italy) is printed on one side of a 7.75" x 10.25" sheet; the other printed on one side of a 7" x 9.5" sheet. Also included are two contemporary pamphlets, the first, 16 pages, entitled Esperienze Della Macchina Aereostatica dell' Illustrissimo Sig. Don Paolo Andreani Esposte in Una Lettera del Canonico Carlo Castelli Diretta al. Sig. Faujas de Saint Fond (Experiences for the Aerostatic Machine...), printed in Milan and undated; and the second Alla Gloria Immortale Del Celebre Signor Don Paolo Andreani Cavaliere Milanese, printed in Milan and undated, second edition, 10 un-numbered pages. The archive appropriately contains a beautiful bronze medal commissioned in 1934 commemorating Andreani's flight, 43mm, with a relief portrait of Andreani by A Guillemard on the obverse with the caption "PAULUS ANDREANIUS PATER.MEDIOL AERONAUTA" around the perimeter. At base of bust the name of the sculptor "A. GUILLEMARD". Obverse shows ascending balloon in high relief. Around perimeter is the information "AUSUS ES UNUS ITALORUM * HAC ITUR ASTRA VIRE * III ID MAR MDCCLXXXIV".
Count Andreani traveled extensively throughout Europe during the latter part of the 18th Century and early 19th Century. Included in the archive are passports from Italy, France and Britain issued to Andreani, as well as a diploma dated 1808 from the Arcadia Academy. Lastly there are two letters, in Italian, written to Andreani by friends which mention certain battles of the Napoleonic Wars - Austerlitz, Jena, etc. and describe the economic conditions of Italy during the period "...a house valued at 40.000...zucchini has been sold for 10.000...anyway the theatre is always full of people...".
All items are in fine condition, with only some toning to the paper of the letters and old fold creases. An exceptional archive and one that may help rewrite or at the very least correct the history of early aviation.
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