10 March, 2018

The 1889 Tintypes: Berkley Vanderzee

Tintype of Berkley Vanderzee. 1889.
Courtesy of the Deakin Archives, Mifflin University.

Scientist and inventor Berkley Vanderzee is the subject of our second exhibition relating to the 1889 tintypes discovered as a part of the Deakin Archives.  This tintype is especially significant in that it confirms that Vanderzee did in fact lose his right arm and ultimately replaced it with a rather sophisticated æther-powered mechanical prosthesis.

"Based on numerous written accounts, we knew that Vanderzee lost his right arm in an accident that occurred in his automaton laboratory during the summer of 1885," notes Archer Bowens, Documents Archivist for the Victorian Mechanical Museum. "We had encountered some written references to experiments with æther-based replacement arms, but the tintype is the first visual confirmation of his use of an actual mechanical device."

As with the other 1889 tintypes, the photograph was taken by Robert Deakin as members of the Society of the Mechanical Sun were preparing to confront Enoch Cyncad in his underground stronghold.  The image shows Vanderzee standing near two combat modified IA Æther Collectors.  The intelligent automations were originally created by Vanderzee in the early 1880s for the purpose of extracting æther from remote and inaccessible deposits in caverns and catacombs deep beneath London. They appear to have been retrofitted with æther-powered particle beam cannons.

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