Victorian Airships And Dirigibles Meet Amazon Prime Air

We had to take a second look at this cartoon, titled “Not Yet, But Soon.” Is it a Victorian Era laugh at airships and dirigibles or a contemporary comment on Amazon’s Prime Air, announced December, 2013. After all, more than a few people are unnerved by the prospect of unmanned drones flying over our heads to deliver packages.

According to Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, nearly 90% of items currently handled by Amazon are under five pounds, making them eligible for air delivery. What could possibly go wrong with all that weight in an endless stream of packages flying above us?

But this cartoon was published in Harper’s Weekly on June 15, 1907. According to New York Times HarpWeek, the artist was gently satirizing the near-future Victorian Era concept of steerable airships, also known as dirigibles, delivering household items like meat, ice, coal and groceries — as depicted.

In light of Amazon’s thrust to do the same, the artist, Alanson Burton Walker was just a little bit ahead of his time.

Alanson Burton Walker (1878-1947), was a highly successful magazine cartoonist who worked mostly at the beginning of the 20th century. His work appeared in magazines including Harper’s, Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Atlantic Monthly and Life.

He was  in demand for his gently satirical, wryly humorous look at a wide range of topics of his changing time including transportation, automobiles, aeronautics, suffrage, love and marriage.

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