A Balloon Ascension at Midnight

by david on 9 July 2010

It would taken the pen of a Carlyle to describe our mysterious flight over Paris at midnight. The impression was so startling that for an hour we never spoke above a whisper.

George Eli Hall’s 1902 story A Balloon Ascension at Midnight is one of my favorite publications from the Elder & Shepard years. Gordon Ross’s color illustrations, including several of Notre-Dame cathedral, immediately sweep the reader back to the Belle Epoque. The book was published in two bindings: paper on boards (below), and green suede with gold trim on boards.

Hall (1863-1911) was born in Nice, France, and was an agent and importer. About 1895 he became the Consul-General of Turkey and Persia in San Francisco. The job evidently included some danger and intrigue: the 8 November 1898 edition of the San Francisco Call, in a┬ánote entitled “Lurking Death for Turkey’s Consul,” said that Hall “had been receiving anonymous packages for the past week containing high and deadly explosives. At first the matter did not seem of much consequence to him, but as these munitions of war continued to constitute a portion of his daily mail, he became apprehensive and reported the matter to Chief of Police Lees.”

Cover of "A Balloon Ascension at Midnight"

Cover of "A Balloon Ascension at Midnight"

Frontispiece of "A Balloon Ascension at Midnight"

Frontispiece of "A Balloon Ascension at Midnight". The sculpture is the famous "Le Stryge" on the parapet of Notre-Dame cathedral.

The balloon catches in a tree

The balloon catches in a tree

The balloon soars over the Arc du Triomphe

The balloon soars over the Arc du Triomphe

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