In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future

In the 1930s, This Age of Power and Wonder was a collection of scifi prophecies that could be found in the curiousest of places — cigarette boxes.

Companies of the early 20th century would often include collectible cards with their foodstuffs and tobacco smokes. The New York Public Library has an extensive collection of these cigarette cards available for viewing online, including many from a series by Max Cigarettes called This Age of Power and Wonder. This series from 1935-38 includes predictions of robot servants, spaceships, live television from exotic locations, and ubiquitous airports atop city high rises. Somewhat ironically for a cigarette manufacturer, card number six in this series of 250 predicted great advances in the treatment of cancer.

Advertisement

Wells Forecasts Space-Ships

Illustration for article titled In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future
Advertisement

Television of the Future

Illustration for article titled In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future

Our Future Servants?

Illustration for article titled In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future
Advertisement

How London May Be Lighted

Illustration for article titled In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future
Advertisement

The Amphibian At Work

Illustration for article titled In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future
Advertisement

Atomic Fuel

Illustration for article titled In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future
Advertisement

Aerodrome of the Future

Illustration for article titled In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future
Advertisement

War on Cancer

Illustration for article titled In the 1930s, cigarette packs predicted the future
Advertisement

The Paleo-Future blog was started by Matt Novak in January of 2007. Matt has since become an accidental expert on past visions of the future, and has amassed an enormous library of media related to the study of retro-futurism. Matt can be reached at matt@paleofuture.com or followed on Twitter.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

A few of these are surprisingly accurate. Radiation therapy did end up being used to treat cancer, military ships often use nuclear fuel, and one of the cards even predicted Jacques Cousteau. I especially like the comment on the "robot servant" card that acknowledges there's no reason why domestic robots would end up looking humanoid.

Incidentally, cigarette packs sold in Canada to this day come with beautiful and surprisingly accurate illustrations of the buyer's future!

(But since editing posts with an image URL doesn't work, I'll put that in a reply.)