JF Ptak Science Books (Expanding an earlier effort, Post 1870)
- See also an earlier post to this blog relatign to this topic: Post-Renaissance People-in-Bed-in-Title-Pages, http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2012/08/post-renaissance-people-in-bed-in-title-pages.html
I don't have much to comment on in these images, just that they are striking and came to me in short order, and that they are all pretty narrow things. They could fall easily into aSkinny category, or perhaps better still, they might slide nicely into the prototype for a series of posts on The History of Lying Down. Or perhaps a combination of the two, or one being a sub-category of the other. Certainly a history of humans lying down would be fairly massive, but scaling it down to late 19th century images of skinny and lying down might narrow the field a bit.
The first, (above), is from Illustrirte Zeitung (Leipzig), and published in 1878; it depicts an American effort at simplified swimming, though sometimes when you simplify an already-simple thing, the results are fairly complex. I haven't much of an idea about how this would make sense, seeing that the body's strongest muscles are not being used at all; further, judging by the flag, this guy is moving feet-first, and the whole procedure, despite body suit, look as though it would be terrifically cumbersome and bloaty. And with the geartrain, plus the weight of the driveshaft and propeller, I don't know how anyone would keep afloat. Or how someone would keep their neck in that position for any period of time. In the world of Good Ideas, this would be an Anti-Good Idea.
Foot's Adjustable Chair Couch, which I found in The Illustrated London News for September 1902, was remarkable for its cushion-y formlessness, accepting the reader to itself like a body with a goiter. There's just something terribly wrong with it, reminding me somehow of undeserved and needlessly- rewarded comfort--too much comfort foully a perfectly reasonable invention like The Chair.
Next is this skinny, low, light semi-automated shaded hammock; little, narrow, and maybe comfortable to fit a 120-pound person. This appeared in the Illustrierte Zeitung, again, for 1892.
And for the 20th century contribution, there is this overflowing fabulosity from Hugo Gernsback--this is the only-tongue-in-check effort amongst these entries. The "electronic bed" appeared in a small 1945 pamphlet called Bizarre, and it is just that, and is certainly not hiding behind any lesser or ambiguous title. It seems to be a parody of small magazines and their advertising sponsors, and copyrighted by the very far-reaching Gernsback, who in 1926 started the first magazine dedicated to the genre of science fiction (Amazing Stories) and for whom the World Science Fiction Society’s annual award for Science Fiction Achievement is named (the “Hugo”). Gernsback evidently had a taste for cheeky parody, producing similar magazines to this called Quip, Forecast, Jolliers, Tame and Newspeep.
There is good lying down, and there is "bad"--that is, the lying down that we don't want to do, the lying down that we try all of our lives to postpone; that is, the lying down for the Big Sleep. Since it was difficult to absolutely diagnose death in some cases before the 1950's, there were some people who went to extreme measures to ensure that if they were buried prematurely that they would have some recourse int eh situation--for example,with the patent granted below, a buried person could activate a signal from the grave with very minor movements of the mouth, thus hopefully alerting some passerby to the fact that the dead isn't:
There are endless varieties of lying down--these are just five examples. The world is full of possibilities that are good, bad, and indifferent. Some are very bad (like the restraint beds for the institutionalized insane in the 19th century) and near-bad (the sleeping accommodations of 18th century sailors), and of course the fantastic Renaissance beds of the rich and famous, and so on.