Fanciful Images of Steam Power

| November/December 1985

When steam power was young, over a century ago, men speculated in many ways on the manners in which steam could be used.

Some of the ideas were proven to be practical. Many others were shown to be nothing but wild dreaming.

Artists had a particularly happy hey day dreaming up ideas. As a Briggs, in his book 'The Power of Steam', comments that 'Among terse engineering prose and mechanical diagrams, cherubs fire to the moon on chariots of fire, babies rocked in patent steam cradles, steam cannon were fired and bottoms were burnt by steam from boiling kettles'.

Briggs reproduces drawings of cherubs operating fantastic steam mechanisms.

Odd ideas kept popping up for years. These included bicycles, steam flying machines and even a steam car which had a fake horse's head on it (so real horses would not be frightened).

IMA has a number of steel engravings of early inventions available, often in books which tell the history. If you are interested in seeing more on this, let us know.