Detail map of London, England, United Kingdom

A: London, England, United Kingdom

Robert Seymour Caricatures Mechanization in "Shaving by Steam," Inspired by an 18th Century Version of the Print

Circa 1826
Seymour Shaving by Steam (caricature)
Creative Commons LicenseJeremy Norman Collection of Images - Creative Commons
Around 1825 British illustrator and caricaturist Robert Seymour, who signed his caricatures "Shortshanks" in parody of caricaturist George Cruikshank, issued Shaving by Steam. The print can be approximately dated from the costumes of the people depicted. The engraved surface of the original hand-colored print is 240 x 340mm.  Another print by Seymour satirizing steam power in transportion is his Walking by Steam....

In his creation of this print Seymour was undoubtedly inspired by an earlier anonymous print entitled "New Shaving Machine"

The sign above the door on the right in Seymour's image announces “Patent Shavograph!!!” In the main room, the Shavograph operates from left to right, with customers on a circular bench. Two are missing noses or other features, thanks to the machine.

The EXPLANATION beneath the print reads:

"AAA a circular form on which the shavers sit BBBB [;] wheels that govern the position of the head [;] CC the machinery which moves the brush in every required direction [;] D a reservoir of water, boiling hot [;] E a pipe filled with patent double compssed shaving power, through which the water is forced to forme a lather on the brush F [;] GGG the machinery which moves the razor H the Engineer with his directing rod. (Note) it is indispensible that the sitter should be firm & steady, it will be perceived the neglecting this by looking after the shop woman has cost one his nose, but he only pays the penalty of his own imprudence. "Accidents will occur in the best regulated families..."

Seymour's phrase,  “Accidents will occur in the best regulated families,” was picked up in 1850 by Charles Dickens, when he wrote, “‘My dear friend Copperfield,’ said Mr. Micawber, ‘accidents will occur in the best-regulated families; and in families not regulated by that pervading influence which sanctifies while it enhances the - a - I would say, in short, by the influence of Woman, in the lofty character of Wife, they may be expected with confidence, and must be borne with philosophy.”

Timeline Themes

Related Entries