Notes from the Past

Balloon Montes and Papillons

During the siege of Paris and Metz in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 balloons were constantly made use of in carrying mail out of the city and over the enemy lines to the surrounding country.  Balloon Montes were balloons that were flown by pilots who volunteered from the French Army.  Balloon non Montes were so-called free balloons that carried no pilots.  Messages on these flights bear the names of Balloon Montes and Balloon non Montes.  The first Paris balloon was released September 23, 1870, and the last January 28, 1871.  There are quite a number of pieces shown in the Serphos collection of these Balloon Montes, as are practically all the varieties of letters and newspapers used during the siege.

The letters during the siege of Metz were on tissue paper 10 x 5 cm. and are known as Papillons.  The first was sent September 5, 1870, and the last October 2, 1870.  The messages were usually attached to small parachutes tied to silk or paper balloons.

- Frank L. Wilson
"Aviation and Philately based on the Norman Serphos Collection"
The Stamp Specialist Number Four
H. L. Lindquist 1940
Posted April 18, 2000

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