“Part of the delight in the images is the realisation that many issues with modern living aren’t actually modern at all – they’ve been raising complications in peoples’ lives for quite some time. And Robinson always had a solution.”
Get labour-saving and life-enhancing ideas from Heath Robinson every time you take a coffee break with this set of six amusing coasters, exclusive to our website.
Heath Robinson has a solution for every problem, needed or not. Want a cup of coffee? Get a machine to make and pour it for you. Trying to impress your guests? Seat them at an all-in-one tubular steel dining suite. Need a comfy seat in the garden? Train a tree into the right shape. The possibilities are endless. With very little trouble you can design a car for picnics or a tie that converts into a napkin. If you live in a small flat, you can throw a supper party on the window sills.
When you take a closer look at these coasters, you can spot all sorts of satirical touches. Heath Robinson couldn’t resist poking fun at social conventions. Whether eating, reading, relaxing or carousing, the characters in his drawings are all desperately seeking to make a good impression. As Philip Pullman says in his Foreword to Very Heath Robinson, ‘They don’t know they’re being ridiculous. They are convinced they’re being entirely rational and clever and up to date’. So, as you sip your coffee, you can laugh along with Heath Robinson.
Coaster 1: The Super-de-Luxe Coffee Maker
Heath Robinson’s Super-De-Luxe Coffee Maker is a boon for the busy housewife.
Coaster 2: The One-Piece Chromium Steel Dining Suite
Heath Robinson humanizes the machine age by making playful fun of the Modernist vogue for tubular steel furniture in How to Live in a Flat (1936).
Coaster 3: A Well-Trained Tree
When pruning a tree, a little foresight will enable the gardener to anticipate the future utility of a well-trained specimen.
Coaster 4: The Picnic Saloon
A convenient vehicle which allows you to set up a picnic whenever you may be.
Coaster 5: A Community Supper Party
If you have no garden or fence over which to chat, you can still meet the neighbours. Just slide up the bottom sash, lay the window sill, fill one another’s glasses and you’re away.
Coaster 6: The Soup Tie
Soup is a perennial problem for the etiquette-conscious diner, but spills can be avoided with this napkin-tie.
William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) is one of the few artists whose names have become part of the English language. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the expression is used to describe ‘any absurdly ingenious and impractical device’. Heath Robinson started out as a landscape artist and book illustrator before finding world-wide fame with his mechanical fantasies. He invented machines for making coffee, lighting cigars, extinguishing candles, peeling potatoes, testing raincoats, saving chickens from injury when crossing the road and conducting just about every other conceivable, and sometimes inconceivable, activity. He satirized the new ways of living that came with technological change, small flats and shortages, creating a whimsical social commentary on his times: history encapsulated in pictures.