Television History - The First 75 Years
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1890s Victorian Trade Card
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1890s TV Card.jpg (106773 bytes) (107K)
"One Hundred Years Hence.."                                    

This trade card is from the "One Hundred Years Hence" Series - a group of Victorian Trade Cards that depicted future technological developments as the Victorians imagined them.  Trade cards were used from 1876 to 1900 in the United States, as a form of product advertising.  They usually came in bright and vivid colors, with interesting (or sometimes humorous) graphics on one side, and the product details and merchant info on the reverse side.

This card - "Concerts and Opera at Home" - shows people with individual receivers listening at home to a live concert, while a funnel-shaped device transfers a visual image to the wall. This predicts the future invention of television - simultaneous transmission of both sound and picture.

The text on the reverse side of the Victorian Trade Card advertises the "Montana Favorite," a pocket knife manufactured by Mahler & Grosh of Toledo Ohio, as well as the company's other knives, razors, and shears.  Size:  3 1/2" x 4 3/4". 

Believed to be the first color-lithograph concept drawing of television. (Shows color projection TV of the 1990s!).   Previously, the only concept drawings on the subject were black & white sketches by the caricature artist Albert Robida, in the early 1880s.

Here is an example:

1940 Televisions 1st Year-Pg8.JPG (121519 bytes) (122K)
1880's Concept Sketches of TV, then called the "Telephotoscope".  This is a partial page from Television's First Year, published by NBC, in 1940.

 Additionally, written literature describing the possibility of TV was published in Scientific American magazine in the 1880s.

1890s Sub Excursions Trade Card.JPG (77126 bytes) (77K)
Another card from the "One Hundred Years Hence" Series - Submarine Excursions!

There were a total of 12 known cards in this series, each printed more than 100 years ago.  Among the other cards from the set are: roofed cities to avoid bad weather; moving sidewalks; city improvements; and polar travel by balloon.  (Information courtesy of Evie Eysenburg of New York). 

1890s Rat Poison Trade Card $800.JPG (55534 bytes) (55K)
For the Victorian Trade Card collectors ... I could not resist one more posting.  Although I do collect some of these cards, this rare gem belongs to another card collector.  (Catalog value: $800). 

1900 Paris Exposition

1900 Paris Expo - TV PREDICTED!  (50K bytes) (50K)

IN THE YEAR 2000 ..........

At the 1900 Paris Exposition, there were a set of trade cards sold as souvenirs, titled: "In the Year 2000" (in French, of course!).  Card collectors have identified at least 50 different cards in the series, one of which illustrates another example of a future 20th century invention which resembles television!  (or perhaps a videophone!).

Coincidently -- at the same exposition (fair, show) -- on Friday, August 25, 1900, a paper was read by Mr. Constantin Perskyi, to the International Electricity Congress, which he describes a device called "Television" .  

  This was the FIRST TIME the word "Television" is used.



Just like the 1890s series of "future cards" above, there are some interesting ones in the bunch ...

  (40K)  News by Radio -- Predicted 20 years before it happened!

(40K)  Projecting Telescope (Hubble?)

(40K)  Flying Busses -- remember the airplane did not fly until Dec. 17th, 1903.

(40K)  Heating your house with RADIUM --- hmmm.

(40K)  Motorcycles used as "scouts" during wartime instead of horses

(40K)  Hunting & destroying microbes

(40K)  The horse being displayed 'as a curiosity' !!

(40K)  Underwater croquet !?

(40K)  Flying Tennis !



What if "we" looked 100 years into the future ....  what kind of cards would we make today?



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