Monday 12 February 2024 "France in the year 2000, as envisaged in 1899. ⁠ ⁠ Some technologies are wonderfully prescient: there's approximations of Zoom, a vacuum cleaner, voice-notes, drone deliveries. Other visions less so, particularly those anticipating a life beneath the waves in which people play underwater croquet and ride on whale buses... ⁠ ⁠ Originally commissioned by Armand Gervais, a French toy manufacturer in Lyon, for the 1900 World exhibition in Paris, the first fifty of these paper cards were produced by Jean-Marc Côté, designed to be enclosed in cigarette boxes and, later, sent as postcards. All in all, at least seventy-eight cards were made by Côté and other artists, although the exact number is not known, and some may still remain undiscovered. ⁠ ⁠ A few sets of cards were printed by Gervais in 1899 but he died during production. For the next quarter century, the cards sat idle in his defunct toy plant — future visions shelved in a basement like forgotten relics from the past. An antiquarian bought the archive, transferring it to his own crypt for fifty more years, until the Canadian writer Christopher Hyde stumbled across them at his Parisian shop. Hyde in turn lent the cards to science-fiction author Isaac Asimov, who republished them in 1986, with accompanying commentary, in the book Futuredays: A Nineteenth Century Vision of the Year 2000.⁠ ⁠ We first posted about this back in 2012 (our first "viral" post!) but since then @labnf has uploaded a set of high quality digitisations — so this week, as part of our PDR Revisited series (in which we give older articles some much needed love), we updated the post with these improved images and also a brand new commentary. Click link in bio and click image to see on our site.⠀⁠"

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