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Catalog Data

Names:
Steiner, John H,  Search this
Extent:
0.05 Cubic feet (1 quarter-plate ambrotype)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Date:
1857
Summary:
This quarter-plate ambrotype made by an unknown photographer shows the balloon ascension by John Steiner at Erie, Pennsylvania, on June 18, 1857.
Scope and Contents:
This quarter-plate ambrotype made by an unknown photographer, shows the balloon ascension by John Steiner at Erie, Pennsylvania, on June 18, 1857. The scene pictured is the first attempt to fly to Canada across Lake Erie. This ambrotype, which shows men ringing the balloon as it is inflated outdoors, is thought to be the earliest dated photographic image of a balloon ascension in the United States.
Arrangement:
Single item.
Biographical / Historical:
Professor John H. Steiner emigrated from Germany in 1853 and quickly established himself as a daring aeronaut. Steiner's flight in 1857, the first attempt to fly to Canada across Lake Erie, made him famous. Due to adverse weather conditions, Steiner eventually was forced to jump into the lake and was rescued by the crew of the steamer Mary Stewart. His balloon was later found, in tatters, having successfully made it to Canada without its pilot. During the Civil War, Steiner served as a balloonist for the Union forces with Thaddeus S.C. Lowe's Balloon Corps. As a civilian in 1863, Steiner gave a tethered balloon ride to German officer, Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was on leave as a military observer with Union army. Years later, after Count Zeppelin's rigid airships had flown over the cities of Europe, Zeppelin recalled his flight with Steiner as his inspiration.
Provenance:
Robert L. Drapkin, Gift, 1985, NASM.XXXX.0617.
Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Rights:
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.
Topic:
Aeronautics  Search this
Balloons -- pre-1900  Search this
Balloon ascensions  Search this
Citation:
John Steiner Balloon Ascension Ambrotype, Acc. XXXX.0617, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NASM.XXXX.0617
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nasm-xxxx-0617