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HomeContentsVisual indexes > George O. Bedford (American, active 1860s)

George O. Bedford (American, active 1860s) 
Mechanical Man 
Carte de visite 
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art 
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc., Object number: 2005.27.264 
I'm indebted to Jeffrey Kraus (10 January 2019) for the following information.
In 1868, Zadoc Dederick of Newark, New Jersey built a robotic man wearing a top hat to pull carriages. His creation became known as "the Newark Steam Man," and its inventor hoped to build an army of steampunkish carriage drivers.
Here's a description of the Steam Man from the January 23, 1868 edition of The Newark Observer:
Mr. Zadock Deddrick [sic], a Newark machinist, has invented a man; one that, moved by steam, will perform some of the most important functions of humanity; that will, standing upright, walk or run as he is bid, in any direction, and at almost any rate of speed, drawing after him a load whose weight would tax the strength of three draught horses. The history of this curious invention is as follows: Six years ago Mr. Deddrick, the inventor, who is at present but twenty-two years of age, conceived the novel idea of constructing a man that should receive its vitality from a perpetual motion machine. The idea was based on the well-known mechanical principle that, if a heavy weight be placed at the top of an upright slightly inclined from vertical, gravitation will tend to produce a horizontal as well as vertical motion. The idea was unsuccessful. However, by observing carefully the cause of failure, persevering and perfecting the man-form, and by substituting steam in place of the perpetual motion machine, the present success was attained.
The man stands seven feet and nine inches high, the other dimensions of the body being correctly proportioned, making him a second Daniel Lambert, by which name he is facetiously spoken of among the workmen. He weighs five hundred pounds. Steam is generated in the body or trunk, which is nothing but a three-horse power engine, like those used in our steam fire engines. The legs which support it are complicated and wonderful. The steps are taken very naturally and quite easily. As the body is thrown forward upon the advanced foot the other is lifted from the ground with a spring and thrown forward by the steam. Each step or pace advances the body two feet, and every revolution of the engine produces four paces. As the engine is capable of making more than a thousand evolutions a minute, it would get over the ground, on this calculation, at the rate of a little over a mile a minute. As this would be working the legs faster than would be safe on uneven ground or on broad street cobble stones, it is proposed to run the engine at the rate of five hundred revolutions per minute, which would walk the man at the modest speed of half a mile a minute [...]
In order to prevent the "giant" from frightening horses by its wonderful appearance Mr. Deddrick intends to clothe it and give it as nearly as possible a likeness to the rest of humanity. The boiler, and such parts as are necessarily heated, will be encased in felt and woolen undergarments. Pantaloons, coat and vest, of the latest styles, are provided. Whenever the fire needs coaling, which is every two or three hours, the driver stops the machine, descends from his seat, unbuttons "Daniel's" vest, opens a door, shovels in the fuel, buttons up the vest and drives on. On the back, between the shoulders the steam cocks and gauges are placed. As these would cause the coat to set awkwardly, a knapsack has been provided that completely covers them. A blanket, neatly rolled up and placed on top the knapsack, perfects the delusion. The face is molded into a cheerful countenance of white enamel, which contrasts well with the dark hair and mustache. A sheet iron hat with a gauge top acts as a smoke stack.
The cost of this "first man" is $2,000, thought the makers, Messrs. Deddrick & Grass, expect to manufacture succeeding ones, warranted to run a year without repair, for $300. The same parties expect to construct, on the same principle, horses which will do the duty of twelve ordinary animals of the same species. These, it is confidently believed, can be used alike before carriages, street cars and plows. The man now constructed can make his way without difficulty over any irregular surface whose ruts and stones are not more than nine inches below or above the level of the road.
[Note - Alan Griffiths] A copy of this carte de visite sold at auction had the address of George O. Bedford as "Park Gallery, 166 Broad St., Newark, N.J."
I'm indebted to Colleen Nadas (10 January 2019) for this information. 

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