Instruction sur la nouvelle Machine inventée par MM. Launoy, naturaliste, & Bienvenu, machiniste-physicien, qui a été annoncée dans le Journal de Paris, le 19 avril, 1784. Avec laquelle un corps, contre sa propre tendance, monte dans l’atmosphere avec une vitesse qui égale le vol d’oiseau, & est susceptible de pouvoir être dirigée à la volonté de l’homme…

[No place, printer or date; Paris, 1784.]1784

8vo, 15 pages. Drop-head title. First leaf a little soiled and upper and lower outer corners neatly restored. Contemporary blue wrappers. Contained in a calf-backed chemise lettered in gilt on spine and matching slipcase.

FIRST EDITION. Description of the first prototype for a helicopter, an airscrew model demonstrated before the Académie des Sciences in Paris in April 1784. It consisted of two two-blade rotors contra-rotating on the ends of a short pole, worked by a simple bow-string mechanism. This is in essence the principle of the helicopter and was to lead to all subsequent helicopter development. It was studied by Sir George Cayley who made a model of the Frenchmen’s design in 1796 and later improved it. Purchase of this pamphlet served as an admission ticket to view the three helicopter models then on display at Bienvenu’s house in the Rue de Rohan, Paris. The first machine was the one demonstrated at the Académie des Sciences; the second a larger machine three times the size of the original; and the third a model of a proposed machine,“réservée essentiellement à l’examen du Public” (p. 2). Tissandier, Bibliographie aéronautique, p. 26. Hodgson, p. 394. Gibbs-Smith, Sir George Cayley’s aeronautics, pp. 1–3. Rare; OCLC lists three copies, one in the Bibliotheque nationale and two in Germany.


In stock

Unsure of some of these terms? Click here to download a copy of Carter & Barker, ABC for Book Collectors (2006), which has full explanations.