12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago

By Attila Nagy on at

Electric airships, submarines, and other futuristic vessels were the main attractions on the covers of a pulp novel series called Frank Reade Weekly Magazine: Containing Stories of Adventures on Land, Sea & in the Air.

The Smithsonian Libraries’s tumblr has just posted some of the best examples of these paleofuturist transportation devices. They explain:

The Frank Reade Weekly Magazine was a series of cheap and colourful dime novels published at the turn of the 20th century aimed at a young, predominantly male audience. They spun tales of adventure in exotic settings – often in polar regions—with the inventor hero travelling in futuristic airships and submarines.

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago

You can read twelve issues of the magazine online, from the digital collections of the Smithsonian Libraries. Here are all the covers containing awesome artwork, showing bold visions of future transportation.

“Searcher”, a Snow locomotive

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


“Ranger”, an electric ice ship

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


“Explorer”, a submarine boat

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


“Kite”, a flying sailboat

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


Four-wheeled airship

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


The Engine of the Clouds

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


“Dolphin”, an electric submarine

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


Treasure hunter deep sea divers, and a submarine boat in the background

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


“Dart”, an airship with butterfly sails

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


An airship called “Spectre”

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


“Dart”, a submarine boat

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago


“Sea Diver”, an electric submarine boat

12 Fantastic Scifi Vehicles from a Century Ago

[Smithsonian Libraries]