John Howard
The Antique English Pottery Specialist
Heritage, 6 Market Place, Woodstock, OX20 1TA | +44 (0)1993 812580 | +44 (0)7831 850544


Vicenzo Lunardi was a pioneering Italian aeronaut. Born in Lucca , he arrived in England as Secretary to Prince Caramanico, the Neapolitan Ambassador.

The English were sceptical about balloon flight, and so George Biggin and Vincent Lunardi, together decided to demonstrate a hydrogen balloon flight at the Artillery Ground of the Honourable Artillery Company in London on 15 September 1784.

A 200,000 strong crowd (which included eminent statesmen and the Prince of Wales) had grown very impatient during pre- flight proceedings so Lunardi decided to take off without his friend Biggin as the balloon was not fully inflated. Charmingly he was accompanied by a dog, a cat and a caged pigeon. The flight from the Artillery Ground travelled in a northerly direction towards Hertfordshire, with Lunardi making a stop in Welham Green, where the cat was set free as it seemed airsick. The flight ended at Standon Green End. The road junction in Welham Green near to the site Lunardi made his first stop is called Balloon Corner to this day to commemorate the landing.

The trio of London delftware dishes commemorate this historic and daring event, the first air flight in England. Delftware balloon dishes are scarce and there are few surviving from the period. The large and smaller pieces are especially rare because of the scale (14 and 8 inches diameter).The middle plate is exceptionally rare for its colour palette. Similar examples are located in major museums such as the V and A in London and Williamsburg USA.









© 2018 Antique Pottery of John Howard @ Heritage, Woodstock, UK