“Please Stop by My Underwater Croquet Party,” and Other Visions of the Year 2000 by Early 20th Century French Artists

The year 1900 was a very sexy year to be alive. The world was on the cusp of flying machines,1 was powered by steam and diesel, and had promise of telephony. In the preceding year, the US Patent Commissioner Charles H. Duell said, according to myth, “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” and with certain satisfaction promptly retired his post to spend the rest of his days basking in knowledge that the future had already arrived. Duell was catastrophically wrong, but it serves the point that at the 1900 Exposition Universelle2 in Paris, France people had a very misguided view of the future.

“France in The Year 2000″ is a series of over 87 images made for cigar boxes made directly from that view of a mechanical future. The pieces, made by Jean-Marc Côté and other unnamed artists, were first presented at the 1900 Exposition Universelle and later partially issued as postcards in 1900, 1901 and 1910.

In this future: the maid would use a machine to clean the floor while firemen flew through the air and large machines incubated and hatched chicks; a tailor would fit you with calipers while an iron box made your clothes; people would race fish underwater and take tours on busses strapped to the backs of whales; and most accurately, students would be connected to machines that delivered all the instructional information to their brains.

1 In 1871 the Planophore was developed by Frenchman Alphonse Pénaud. The model, which only had an 18 inch wingspan mostly served as a demonstration of the stability of air flight. The French rejoiced nonetheless.
2 The World’s Fair.

“The New-Fangled Barber”

“An Aerial Battle”

“Aero-Cab Station”

“Aerial Firemen”

“The Rural Postman”

“Divers on Horseback”

“Electric Scrubbing”

“Fishing for Seagulls”

“Aviation Police”

“A Very Busy Farmer”

“Advance Sentinel in a Helicopter”

“Intensive Breeding”

“A Tailor of the Latest Fashion”

“The Little Eagle-Nest Robbers”

“A Race in The Pacific”

“A Well-Trained Orchestra”

“A House Rolling Through the Countryside”

“At School”

“Madame at her Toilette”


“A Torpedo Plane”

“A Whale-Bus”


“France in XXI Century,” Wikimdedia Commons

Commentary Ticker

  • Data Knows Best: Greatest TV Shows Get Ranked and Graphed
    March 26, 2014 | 10:50 am

    Every argument is better with charts and graphs. Sometimes a little linear regression can provide more insight than a long-winded report. GraphTV tests that theory by plotting the ratings of popular television shows. It all started with Breaking Bad. Data guru Kevin Wu was watching its fifth and final season and couldn’t help but think [...]

  • A Coin-Inspired National Spirit, Hopefully
    March 20, 2014 | 11:56 am

    The Lakota Nation, a group of seven Native American bands in North and South Dakota, voted to make a Bitcoin-like crypto-currency called MazaCoin their official currency, according to Forbes. Programmer and Lakota activist Payu Harris believes that the coin will help the Lakota people gain sovereignty over their land. “To be a truly independent state [...]

  • Smartguns and the Promise of Progress
    March 3, 2014 | 9:50 am

    With the recent Sandy Hook elementary school shooting (and the 44 school shootings since) still relatively fresh in our collective minds, and with Congress empirically unable to do anything to stop gun violence at all, it seems slowing, if not stopping, the gun violence epidemic has fallen on a strange coalition of gun manufacturers, Silicon [...]

  • Watch: Movies Without Imaginary Friends
    January 28, 2014 | 12:56 pm

    If you seriously haven’t watched Fight Club yet (or read the book by Chuck Palahniuk) stop and go do that right now. You’re fifteen years late to the craziest party. Okay, you’ve watched it now? Onwards. A visual effects specialist in New York accelerated himself to Internet fame in mid-January when he edited Tyler Durden [...]

  • The Racism of “Racism”: The Complicated Origins of the Term
    January 17, 2014 | 12:27 pm

    “Racism,” like race, was invented. The term “racism” has done a lot of heavy lifting for anti-racism advocates, helping to frame anyone discriminating by race as misguided. Just as with classism or sexism, not only does the word racism give name to an evil, it helps to create the thing as evil in the first [...]

  • RSSArchive for Commentary Ticker »

Join our mailing list!

Trending on The Airspace