1830c – Walking by Steam – Robert Seymour (British)

The world's first concept for a powered exoskeleton ? We often forget that even the now bygone era of Steam power and locomotion was new and in its infancy, satirists looked at a future whereby the most absurd objects could be powered and animated.
Locomotion – Walking by Steam, Riding by Steam, Flying by Steam, by Robert Seymour published by Thomas McLean, London .
"Locomotion", a late 1820's or 1830c satire on the coming of the Age of Steam; the inventions to be expected in the wake of the newfangled steam railroad are, from left to right: a steam walker ("Walking by Steam"), a steam carriage ("Riding by Steam"), and a steam ornithopter ("Flying by Steam") 

There's a second companion plate "A few small inconveniences — There's nothing perfect" that shows the newfangled steam inventions breaking down and blowing up.

'Locomotion', London, c1820. In the centre a man wearing steam driven boots has ground to a halt, as the fire has gone out, below a servant attempts to start a blaze with a pair of belows. People in other forms of transport are also experiencing difficulties. 

Notes: 1. For an explanation of the Machinery see the next Number of the Edinburg Review" [RH-2010 – Not yet located].

2. Etched signature below image, "Shortshanks del. s.p." pseudonym for Robert Seymour and was a play on Cruikshank who threatened to sue so Seymour stopped using it. The illustrations are sometimes incorrectly attributed to George Cruikshank, a contemporary of Robert Seymour who used the same publisher, Thomas McLean.

3. Possibly an inspiration for Nick Park's "Wallace & Gromit's : The Wrong Trousers."

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010 at 10:21 am and is filed under Man Amplifiers, Steam Men, Walking Machines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “1830c – Walking by Steam – Robert Seymour (British)”

  1. Stephen Jarvis Says:


    I was really delighted when, some time ago, I discovered that you had posted these Robert Seymour prints on your site. I made a note to contact you in 2015.

    You see, I have actually written a novel, in which Seymour is the main character – and I feature those very prints in an important scene, relating to Seymour’s relationship with Cruikshank. If you are interested, the novel is called Death and Mr Pickwick and it will be published in May by Random House (in the UK) and in June by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (in the USA). Further information can be found at:


    where I can also be contacted.

    The possible connection to Wallace and Gromit occurred to me too. Part of the novel is set in modern times, and I do indeed mention The Wrong Trousers.

    Best wishes

    Stephen Jarvis

  2. cyberne1 Says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I love Robert Seymour’s caricatures. Just wonderful. I look forward to reading your book.


    Reuben Hoggett