Unlike many other stores, we offer only handcrafted items, artisan creations, and vintage finds intended to serve a discerning clientele who are looking for an emotional connection. Those who seek the exclusive and the luxurious, as well as, the sophisticated harmony of design, function, and quality from days gone by that is the essence of the Steampunk Aesthetic, will find equipage worthy of their desire here. It is for this audience the Trowbridge Emporium was born.
The history of the The Trowbridge Emporium is inspired by that Victorian/ Edwardian era known as the Belle Epoque, or “Beautiful Age,” and brought into the 21st century through Steampunk Culture. Steampunk is influenced by and often adopts the style of the 19th-century scientific romances of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley. Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue-in-cheek variant of cyberpunk. It was coined by science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986), and himself (Morlock Night, 1979, and Infernal Devices, 1987)—all of which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of such actual Victorian speculative fiction as Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
In the late 1990s, Steampunk made a leap from the pages of fiction to real life cosplay conventions across the nation. At these weekend events, attracting thousands or even tens of thousands of participants, fans adopt characters or create their own based on all manner of fantasy from books and movies to comic books and video games. This involves often elaborate costuming and serious role play. The steampunk world where top hats, pocket watches, goggles and ray guns are equally important accessories to the airship pirates, mad scientists, and world adventurers who wear them has grown into a true subculture spanning all ages, ethnicities, orientations, and classes.
Your proprietor, Grandison Trowbridge, is his most authentic self in this motley world of vagabonds and gentlemen in which he has made himself at home. It is his greatest pleasure to share the beauty and magic of the delightful world of steampunk with you through his Emporium and the treasures you will find there in.
All items in the Emporium are high quality, American made pieces unless specifically noted otherwise.
Why is it called an Emporium?
Your proprietor, in keeping with an aspirational view of the merchandise to be presented felt the historical context of an Emporium was best suited to the business. In recent times an Emporium is a department or variety store. Historically, an Emporium is a trading outpost established by one nation in the territory of another. The Trowbridge Emporium is nothing if not a variety store, a cabinet of curiosities, even. It is also something of a Steampunk outpost in the mundane modern world. However, in addition to those practical concerns of vocabulary, “Emporium” is an evocative poetic word. Unlike “variety store,” “dry goods store,” or “Five and Dime,” to which it is related, “Emporium” carries an air of mystery and wonder, it smells faintly of dust and old perfume, and arouses a sense of excitement and discovery. All of which are true of The Trowbridge Emporium.