Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The last of its kind: the International Antique Science, Medical & Technology Fair

Where would you go if you wanted to kit out a lab to animate the horrific composite of human remains you had carefully been stitching together? PC World? Wall Mart? It's not looking good, is it? ebay might be better, but you'd have to wait a week for delivery, you would probably find "as new" was rather optimistic a description and the feedback just doesn't bear thinking about... "Works great! The Tesla coils made the severed hand move just fine despite the damage to the tendons. A+++++++"

Last weekend I was invited by my Steampunk buddy Grand Moff Tarkin to go to the last ever International Antique Science, Medical & Technology Fair in London (website here). This was a trade show with dozens of stalls selling all manner of instruments and gubbins from the worlds of science. Miniature Victorian pedometers could be found amidst vintage doctors' cases, astrolabes, static generators and all manner of optics. It was a Steampunk's dream.

This dream, however, turned into a nightmare when one examined the price tags. Now I am the first to admit I am no expert in valuing scientific antiques, but some of the stallholders were "having a laugh". One old goat tried to charge me £90 for a vintage schoolboy's exercise book. The clientele was international and I suspect these fairs are few and far between. Hence the traders were out to milk the audience. I discovered it was the last fair of its kind as the organisers were not able to make enough profit from the endeavour. In some ways its a shame, in others it feels like greed had run rampant and, like the Ouroboros, swallowed itself.




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