In a December 8, 1900, article about a new steam automobile, the "Serpollet Carriage," we learn that the inventor, M. Serpollet, had the honor of cruising around with some royalty. According to the article, the shah of Persia, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar, purchased one of Serpollet's vehicles while on a visit to Paris. This image shows Serpollet teaching the shah how to drive the carriage.

"The Shah was so well pleased with the vehicle that he conferred upon the inventor the Order of the Lion and the Sun" honor given to foreigners (and later to Persians) for their service to the country. On an interesting side note, it was this same shah who is credited with bringing the cinema to Iran.


About the Author: Mary Karmelek is a production assistant for Nature Publishing Group and is currently working on Scientific American's Digital Archive Project, where she spends countless hours scouring articles and ads of decades long ago. She graduated with her MA in English from Fordham University in 2010 and currently resides in New York City. While her educational background is in gender and war trauma in modernist literature, Mary also has a keen interest in the historical and visual documentation of science, nature and medicine.