Author(s): Maurice Collins
Hundreds of 19th- and 20th-century curiosities and contraptions are catalogued in this amusing assembly of more than 1,000 images. The days from the first Great Industrial Exhibition of 1851 to the post-WWII Festival of Britain saw rapid technological advancement throughout the United Kingdom and elsewhere, and countless numbers of products, from the ingenious to the idiotic, appeared on the market. Twenty-two sections divided into time- and money-saving devices, kitchen utensils, gadgets for ladies and gentlemen, trains, bikes, autos, and many more, recall these bygone products. Some, like the moustache spoon, clearly served a need amid polite Victorian society. However, less scrupulous merchants also hawked gizmos like the nose shaper and the asthma-curing necklace. Marvel at the multitude of devices humankind has conceived, some of which could be considered forerunners of modern-day conveniences like smartphones and computers.
Maurice Collins has been collecting gadgets, contraptions, and doohickeys from bygone eras for more than 40 years. Born in London's East End in the mid-1930s, he served in the British Royal Air Force and later started his own printing company specializing in boxed games and cartons.