The most complete set known of the original "Year 2000" illustrated cards, prepared for the 1900 Paris Exposition.
EN L'AN 2000
Commissioned by toy manufacturer Armand Gervais et Cie, commercial artist Côté drew substantial inspiration from Jules Verne and his illustrators to develop a series of charming imagined scenes from the far future of 2000, when the human race would tire of a gravity-bound lifestyle and take in large numbers to the new frontiers of the air and sea: winged firefighters; party airships; a whalebus bearing its passengers along the whaleroad. An equally dominant theme is the improvement and automation of natural processes for maximum techno-futuristic Efficiency: a woman at her dressing table applies her maquillage with robot-arm controllers; an automaton orchestra plays itself; a miniature 'intensive incubator' expels fresh eggs and live chicks from alternate chutes; a schoolmaster pours textbooks into an enormous grinder whose processed contents whizz along electrical wires into his pupils' headphone-receivers.
Fifty cards from an incomplete set acquired by Christopher Hyde at Editions Renaud in 1978 were reproduced and published as FUTUREDAYS in 1985, with an introduction and commentary by Isaac Asimov, who took special note of the cards' up-to-date incorporation of contemporary scientific discoveries: "[T]he illustrator portrays a future in which a living room can be heated by a tiny speck of radium upheld in the center of a fireplace...This surely must be the first representation of the peaceful use of nuclear energy."
Though Asimov referred to the FUTUREDAYS set of 50 as the "only complete set of these cards in existence," the total number of designs originally produced is not known with certainty, and a small number of fuller sets have since been found, including this one. A spectacular fin-de-siecle futurist vision and, at 78 cards, the largest set documented.
Read more: Isaac Asimov, Futuredays: A Nineteenth-Century Vision of the Year 2000.
Lyon: Armand Gervais et Cie, 1899. 78 chromolithograph illustrations, each 4'' x 2.5'', printed on eight sheets, rectos only. Housed in custom blue cloth clamshell box with gilt-stamped brown leather title label to front panel.
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