Tuesday, July 5, 2016


"Symptoms of Angling" 7 inch plate by an unknown maker, ca. 1830.  The pattern pokes fun at the new mechanization that was part of the Industrial Revolution.  Notice that the man is free to read while his machine does the fishing!
There are patterns on small plates, probably made for children, that poke fun of the 19th century's new industrial age.  The titles include the words "Symptoms of."  I was reminded of these patterns when I visited a show of old machines in Cayucos, California.  The juxtaposition of the two, plates and show, made me think that what would have been fantastical and humorous to an early 19th century person was just the beginning of what would become the Machine Age (1880-1945).  First powered by hand and steam, and later powered by electricity and gas.  Below is an early 20th century washing machine.

Early 20th century washing machine powered by electricity

And a  corn husking machine.

Corn husking machine powered by electricity.

And a tractor.

And a car.

And a mine hoist.

Here are a few more humorous "Symptoms of" early 19th century plates.  I particularly like the steam powered vehicle in the shape of a teapot below.

"Symptoms of Going in Style" 5.88 inch plate, ca. 1830.  The pattern shows a man driving a steam powered tea kettle!

"Symptoms of Wholesale Trade" 6 inch plate, ca. 1830.  Here, men are shaved jointly by a steam powered shaving machine!

The last plate is a bit ominous!  I hope the shaving machine doesn't cut anyone.

When I look at the machines around my house, I think about the progression of machines.  What early 19th century man or woman could imagine a washing machine controlled by electricity or a vehicle powered by gas.  What 20th century man or woman could imagine a machine, called a computer, that not only runs the washing machine, but all of the appliances in the house!  Actually, I am a bit amazed.

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