Free To Print Fun Vintage Hot Air Balloon Art

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There is something romantic about vintage hot air balloon art prints.  I think because it was the birth of air travel.  

This is a carefully curated collection of vintage hot air balloon drawings, including some beautiful painted French postcards of the earliest hot air balloons and airships. Airships are a type of hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than simply drifting with the wind.

I wrongly assumed that Hot air balloons were part of the Jules Verne novel about Phileas Fogg’s journey around the world in eighty days. I have since found out that it is a common myth. 

Jules Verne, however, did write a series of books about characters traveling around Africa in a hot air balloon. The first of which was called “Five Weeks In A Balloon published in 1863.

History of Hot Air Balloons

The hot air balloon is the first successful form of flight transport of people. The first hot air balloon flights were tethered by a rope. It wasn’t until 1783 the first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes.

This inaugural flight took place in Paris, France,  in a balloon designed by the Montgolfier brothers.  

Like with monkeys in space, animals (sheep duck and a rooster) were used as “guinea pigs” for the first manned hot air balloon flights. 

Not just for safety reasons but also to test the effects of altitude on the creatures.  As the duck and the rooster could already fly they were the control animals in the first test flight.

How Hot Air Balloons Work

Hot air balloons work on the principle that heated air has a lower density than cold air.

Hot air balloons are lighter than air aircraft with an envelope (a bag) which contains heated air. Suspended beneath the envelope is a basket for carrying people in.

A burner creates heat, which travels up into the balloon (called an envelope), and causes the balloon to be buoyant, there is a vent at the top of the balloon that allows the pilot control over ascent and descent.

Free Hot Air Balloon Prints

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The Vintage Hot Air Balloon Art

1909 Watercolour French Postcards

The following vintage hot air balloon art prints are from a collection of vintage French postcards in a 1909 scrapbook titled “Album Gravures et Cartes-Postales: Vieux Paris Types Petits Métiers et Cris De La Rue (1909). “

All the watercolour paintings are by the artist A. Molynk.

1. Departure of Léon – Vintage Hot Air Balloon Art

A watercolour postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of French politicians Léon Gambetta and Eugène Spuller fleeing Paris via hot air balloon during the Franco-Prussian War. The actual date of this flight was the 7th of October 1870.

Depart de Leon Hot Air Balloon

2. Spherical Balloon

Postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of the hot air balloon in the style of a sphere with a passenger basket underneath.

spherical hot balloon.

3. First Hydrogen Gas Balloon

This hot air balloon illustration depicts the first flight of a gas-air balloon on December 1, 1783, by French brothers Anne-Jean Robert and Nicolas-Louis Robert and French inventor Jacques Alexandre César Charles.

fist Hot Air Balloon flight

4. First Montgolfier Brother Hot Air Balloon

A vintage hot air balloon art print showing the first successful public hot air balloon demonstration on June 4, 1783, by French brothers Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier.

first hot air balloon

5. Airship Flown by Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau

Postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of a flying airship with assorted propulsion mechanisms and a French flag.

The illustration depicts a type of airship flown by French chemist and politician Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau in 1784.

first airship

6. Guyot’s Balloon

Vintage hot air balloon illustration in the style of an airship with a sail and oars for steering. The design of the balloon is credited to “Guyot”.

airship style hot air balloon

7. Fish Vintage Hot Air Balloon Art Print

Postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of a navigable hot air balloon designed by aeronaut Ferdinand Lagleize in the style of a fish. 1850.

vintage fish shaped hot air balloon art print

8.The Giant Balloon – Vintage Hot Air Balloon Art

Postcard featuring a hand-drawn illustrated depiction of the hot air balloon Le Géant (The Giant) flown by French photographer and journalist Gaspard-Félix Tournachon.

A proponent of manned flight, Tournachon commissioned the prominent balloonist Eugène Godard to construct Le Géant in 1863.

Giant vintage hot air balloon

Other Vinatge Hot Air Balloon Art Prints

9. Hot Air Balloon Over Crowd

A political cartoon showing a large balloon flying over a town crowded with people. Coloured etching by James Gillray. From the Welcome Collection.

Hot air balloon

10. Bologna Balloon Flight

A vintage hot air balloon art print which shows the balloon of Francesco Orlandi, ascending over the public gardens of Bologna, Italy, November 6, 1828.

hot air balloon

11. Italian Political Cartoon Featuring Hot Air Balloons

Another hot air balloon illustration from an Italian political publication 1878.

vintage hot air balloon

12. Four Hot Air Balloons

Another vintage hot air balloon art print from the Welcome collection. The caption says people are flying hot-air balloons, all have baskets and one has wings attached. Coloured engraving by Garner.

vintage hot air balloons

13. Three Hot Air Balloons

Another vintage hot air balloon print from the Welcome Collection. This one shows three hot air balloons over a snowy landscape.

snowy landscape

14. Hot Air Balloon Piloted by Eagles

“Newest invention – an air balloon being piloted by eagles 1801”. Blue and yellow striped air balloon being piloted by a man steering two harnessed birds.

piloted by eagles

15. Lachambre Balloon

A vintage hot air balloon art print labeled “H. Lachambre,” with two men riding in the basket. Poster possibly advertising a balloon manufactured by Henri Lachambre whose facility was located in Vaugirard, a section of Paris, France.


16. Gondola Balloon

A print showing Jacques Alexandre César Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert riding in the gondola of a balloon ascending from the Tuileries Garden, Paris, France, December 1, 1783, in the first hydrogen balloon flight.

If you liked these vintage hot air balloon art prints, you might like some of these other print collections.

8 thoughts on “Free To Print Fun Vintage Hot Air Balloon Art

  1. Thnk you so much for this wonderful set. I am hoping that these prove to be the inspiration I was so desparately seeking.

  2. I don’t think most of these are “hot air” balloons, but rather gas balloons, since they show no evidence of a burner to heat the air inside the balloon. The first manned flight was in a hot air balloon, but a successful gas balloon manned flight launched just ten days later, and gas balloons were the preferred mode of air travel during the late 18th century and the 19th century.
    They are all awesome prints, either way – thanks for sharing them!

    1. Thank you, that’s interesting to know as I didn’t realize the difference between hot air and gas balloons. I know the gases and burners have changed over the years as technology has moved on.

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