Retrofuturist Flashback: 1829 Steampunk Satire

Retrofuturist Flashback: 1829 Steampunk Satire
Even in 1829, steampunk was kind of silly. SSPL/Getty

Think of it as reverse-steampunk if you will.

Instead of re-imagining an outrageous future from the affected vantage point of 19th century Europe, we see here a satirical take on our steam-driven future from the actual vantage point of 1829 England.

Titled "March of Intellect, Lord how this world improves as we grow older," the piece takes a satirical and skeptical shot at the future of steam power. We see a crazy world of fantastic flying machines, castles in the air, a vacuum tube public transportation system, a "servant suspending apparatus" and undersea tunnels.

What a ridiculous vision of the future, right?

But of course now we have flying machines and undersea tunnels. One day we might even get that vacuum tube train. Castles in the sky might be a bit more far-fetched, but we DO have a space station. So take that, British political cartoonist William Heath (1795-1840) (AKA Paul Pry). You might have been having a laugh at all the technological progress but, as with Albert Robida, we see that it behooves a futurist to have one's tongue placed firmly in cheek.

Now let's take a closer look at that train.

Detail.
SSPL/Getty