It seems that humans cannot resist dabbling in predicting the future. We have an innate need to ignore Yogi Berra’s clear warning, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” So what did the year 2000 look like from a vantage point 100 years earlier? Let’s look at a few examples from a series of cigarette cards designed to be given away at the International Exposition of 1900 in Paris.
The images presented here show colorful visions of 2000 when it was 100 years into the future. There are 87 or more known cards in the series started by the French artist Jean-Marc Côté. The artist had been commissioned by a toy-and-novelty company called Armand Gervais et Cie of Lyon to produce images for cigarette cards to be distributed at the International Exposition of 1900 in Paris.
Unfortunately, Gervais died unexpectedly, and his company ceased operations. The cards were never distributed. The plant closed down and was left untouched for almost a quarter of a century. Then a toy collector, Monsieur Renaud, visited the premises with the idea of using it for manufacturing toys. He discovered the untouched inventory of the Gervais company, including the cards instead. Monsieur Renaud decided not to produce toys but to buy the company’s entire stock as the basis of a left-bank store called Editions Renaud.
In 1978 the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov and his wife were living in Paris. They visited Editions Renaud, hit it off with Monsieur Renaud (who was then quite elderly), and bought a set of cards. According to Asimov, the set was the only one not damaged by water in the abandoned factory. Intrigued with the collection, he wrote a book about it, Futuredays: A Nineteenth-Century Vision of the Year 2000, published in 1986
Similar to the work of Jean-Marc Côté, “From Greater St. Louis Christmas Magazine” printed this photo A Forecast – Looking Up Olive Street, St. Louis, Missouri, in the Year 2010 in their December 1910 issue.