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Photograph album with what is probably the earliest photographs of a parachute descent.
Spokane, 1890s. Small (7.5? x 5.5) album with ten 4.75? x 3.75? photographs inserted in heavy card leaves. The photos are all of sights and scenes in and around Spokane, Washington. The cover shows wear, and the front cloth hinge is beginning to separate. The leaves are soiled and show toning, dust, glue, and/or old mildew stains. The album has been de-humidified, frozen, and exposed to UV lighting to kill possibly dormant spores. The photographs are all in very nice shape with no damage or staining; all can easily be removed from the album. Two of the photographs show a parachute descent from a hot-air balloon at Loon Lake about 35 miles north of Spokane. The jumper is undoubtedly ?Captain? Thomas S. Baldwin as he was the only daredevil making parachute attempts at this time. The first photograph shows a crowd gathered around a balloon as it is being inflated with hot air; the second shows Baldwin?s parachute beginning to deploy shortly after he has jumped from the balloon. Baldwin was a 19th century circus aerialist who, after becoming fascinated with hot-air balloons, modified his act in 1875 so that he could perform from a bar hanging below an airbag. He quickly became a star attraction at fairs all over the country, Canada, and the Far East, performing almost 3,000 acrobatic ascents. Noticing that the novelty of his act had begun to fade, Baldwin and his brother designed a light, flexible, and compact parachute. ?In front of an audience at San Francisco?s Golden Gate Park on January 30th, 1885, Baldwin offered the park manager a deal?he would jump from a hot-air balloon for $1.00 per foot of height, with 2,000 feet being the maximum. The crowd, unknowingly, witnessed the first public descent in a parachute [by an American, and] Baldwin was soon dubbed ?The Father of the Modern Parachute.? [Although Baldwin invented and used the first parachute harness, his] jumps were nothing like those of today. Baldwin would ascend in a sitting position on a small seat beneath his balloon. When he reached the desired altitude, Baldwin would pull a rip panel in his balloon to release the hot air, causing the balloon to begin a rapid descent. With the momentum needed to fill the parachute with air, Baldwin would then jump from the seat.? (National Aviation Hall of Fame) Exceptionally scarce. As of 2016, there are no locatable photographic records of any earlier parachute descents; none in the trade; no auction records at ABPC, Rare Book Hub, or LiveAuctioneers; no sales records at WorthPoint; no institutional holdings per OCLC, and no images available through Google, Bing, or Yahoo searches.
      [Bookseller: Read 'Em Again Books, ABAA]
Last Found On: 2016-11-28           Check availability:      Biblio    


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