2 vols. in one, 12mo (157 x 97 mm.) xi, , 296; , 383,  pp. Contemporary tree calf, smooth spine with red and dark green morocco lettering pieces, small gilt Montgolfier balloon tool at top and bottom, yellow red-sprinkled edges. ***
First complete edition of an epic poem on ballooning and the first balloon flights. In elevated verse, the poem provides a history of aerostation and technical information on the construction of the first balloons.
Not only a rare choice of topic for the genre, Lancetti’s poem is also, with twenty cantos in ottava rima, several containing 130 to 160 stanzas, possibly the longest poem ever written on a means of transport. Not surprisingly, the author admits, in the interesting preface, to an obsession with hot air balloons in his youth. Having witnessed the first ascension in Italy, made in Milan by Paolo Andreani and the Gerli brothers on 25 February 1784, Lancetti decided, at the age of 17, to write a poem on the topic. He describes difficulties finding the correct style and varying the descriptions of the different ballooning experiments, which were fundamentally so similar. Interrupted by the obligations of life and career, he returned periodically to the work; finally, emerging from the “political vortex” of the 1790’s, he decided at the urging of his friends to publish it. The poem quickly regained the obscurity from whence it had emerged.
A Cremonese classicist and man of letters, Lancetti published a bio-bibliography of his countrymen, a dictionary of pseudonyms, and translations from the Greek. The first ten cantos of the present labor of love were published at Milan in 1802, in quarto format. Although the title of that edition announced twenty cantos, vol. II was apparently never printed (three copies located, Parma, Biblioteca Palatina, Library of Congress and British Library, all with vol. I only). OCLC lists six copies of this edition in the US (Harvard, US Air Force Academy, Hagley Museum, U. Michigan, MIT and Duke) and two of the 1802 edition. Boffito, Bibliotheca aeronautica italiana I:38; Caproni Guasti, L'aeronautica italiana nell' immagine 1840-1875, pp, 126-7; Passano, Anonimi e pseudonimi italiani, suppl. al Melzi, p. 20. Item #2119