DALLAS, TX.- Heritage Auctions
will offer an important and substantial collection of aerostat-related memorabilia during its June 10-11 Fine and Decorative Arts Auction. The comprehensive group comprises material from balloonings infancy in 18th-century Europe to the 20th century. In additional to many of the items inherent scarcity, most of the collection is being offered for the first time in over a quarter of a century.
What is particularly impressive is the variety of media which the collection covers, from a 14 karat gold and agate vinaigrette, which was carried on both a balloon ascent and diving bell descent (est. $1,000-1,500), to delftware plates (est. $1,500-2,500), bronze medallions (est. $800-1,200), glass decanters (est. $800-1,200), watercolors ($3,000-5,000) and even an exquisite French gold, enamel, pearl, diamond and ruby pocket watch ($7,000-9,000). Three incredibly rare bound volumes by John Jefferies ($1,000-1,500), Vincent Lunardi (est, $800-1,200) and L.A. Sage (est. $800-1,200) some of Europes leading aeronauts in the late 18th century include foldout engravings that embody the romance of science that captivated the continents attention towards the end of the Age of Enlightenment.
Entire towns often would shut down to conduct a balloon flight, and more than 100,000 people gathered in 1814 to witness James Sadlers balloon ascent over Hyde Park at the Hanoverian Jubilee in London. Balloonists were welcomed back to earth as heroes, much in the same degree as astronauts in the 1960s.
Some of the most famous names in ballooning history surface throughout:
Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier: an early French balloon engineer who conducted the first manned untethered balloon flight in his Le Flesselles balloon in 1783
André-Jacques Garnerin: the inventor of the frameless parachute and an inspector in the French army who encouraged the use of tactical ballooning
Vincent Lunardi: an Italian balloonist who conducted the first manned, untethered balloon flight across English skies in 1784
James Sadler: the first English aeronaut, who ascended a few weeks after Lunardi in 1784
Perhaps the most recognizable name in aerostat history is that of the Hindenburg zeppelin. Heritage will offer a rare inaugural flight trophy awarded to the crew of the LZ 129 Hindenburg by the Tide Water Oil Company. Commemorating the May 6-9, 1936 by the Hindenburg, this trophy celebrated the aircraft's first passenger trip across the North Atlantic as part of a propaganda tour for the Nazi government in conjunction with the Berlin Olympics. About a month prior, the Hindenburg had completed its first commercial passenger voyage and transatlantic crossing to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Tide Water Oil Company produced Veedol oil lubricant used in the diesel engines of both the Hindenburg and Graf zeppelin, and devised a filtration system for the gasoline tanks used to pump fuel aboard the zeppelins at Lakehurst Naval Air Station. Exactly a year after the Hindenburg began its North Atlantic passage, the craft caught fire and was destroyed during an attempt to dock with a mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station.
Heritage Auctions will offer more fascinating aeronautical material, together with automobilia and curiosities from the Estate of legendary dealer Charles Schalebaum in the Gentleman Collector auction Sept. 23 in Dallas.