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”
“The Rural Postman”
“Divers on Horseback”
“Fishing for Seagulls”
“A Very Busy Farmer”
“Advance Sentinel in a Helicopter”
“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”
“Madame at her Toilette”
“A Torpedo Plane”