Since all references originate from  I am led to
believe this is an elaborate hoax.  The big tipoff is no mention at all of how the thing
operated, recorded and made conversation, etc.  

And, of course, we quizmasters have just researched the 1893 Columbian Exposition
and not seen a word about this robot.

More proof:  No parents listed for Archibald Balthazar Campion (ABC) and he does not
show on the 1900 census.  Does not show on the 1870 Chicago census, or any other
census, either.  Sister Lily's pictures show a young woman, but if she married in 1870
would be in her late 40's at the time of the 1893 Fair.  Final proof, from the website:  
All contents copyright 2000, 2006 Paul Guinan. Boilerplate, Archibald Campion, and all
related marks and indicia are trademarks of Paul Guinan.                   
Marilyn Hamill

N.B.  An elaborate hoax?  What do you mean?  And anyway inventors don't
normally disclose the secret of their inventions...

Besides just because you didn't find Archibald in the census records doesn't mean he
didn't exist.  That's negative proof, honey.  If you are a genealogist you know that
there are lots of people who don't appear in the census records but if they didn't exist
then neither would we!

Oh, that thing about Copyright 2000, 2006 Paul Guinan.  A minor concern.  
Anybody can post stuff like that.
                                                                                    Quizmaster General

Teddy Roosevelt is often described as a master of public relations. He might have been
serious and enthused about the impact Boilerplate would have on the enemy. Surely he
was equally excited about the publicity such a picture would receive. Politicians can
often benefit from the occasional informal photo such as golfing or attending a
ballgame. Perhaps it makes them a little more human and less robotic, themselves.
Wherever Boilerplate was taken it had to be an invitation for a picture to be taken. In
office, I have to believe that Roosevelt was the antithesis of stuffy. To find out, that
will be reading for another day!                                                             
Don Draper

.Long live steam-powered robots!  They put puny electronic ones to shame!  We tend
to deprecate the accomplishments of our ancestors (exactly how DID Avogadro come
up with that number? We use x-ray crystallography today), but the steam-powered
Boilerplate is a precious rebuke to us.                                          
Mike Swierczewski

It is a great joke, and damned funny.  He was supposed to do everything from charging
up San Juan Hill  to traveling to Antarctica.  His real accomplishment is to show people
that they need to read more!                                                    
Mike Vanlandingham

N.B.  Joke?  You have to be kidding me.....

This was fun, and you had me going for a bit.  I am glad I read the comments on
Boilerplate's website.  I should be as well traveled as Boilerplate.      
Milene Rawlinson

I love it!!!!  Stay turned for further adventures.  I'm waiting for Boilerplate:  The
Diane Burkett

This was an easy one, especially since you have your tongue firmly in your cheek. This
is an excellent example of the reason that people shouldn't believe everything that they
find on the internet.                                                                         
George Wright

N B. You mean to tell me that new research into the Losch Ness monster might not
be true if I read it on the internet???

I had never heard of Boilerplate before that picture and now I've gotten just about every
Boiletplate website bookmarked!                                                           
Brad Labine

Paul Guinan is a very clever man.  I suspect he fooled a great number of people with
his elaborate hoax involving the victorian era robot 'Boilerplate'.  He has marvelous
illustrations  and photos of Boilerplate with Teddy Roosevelt and Pancho Vila and spins
tales of his adventures in Antarctica, etc. I have been a fan of the Columbian Expo for a
long time and have collected many types of memorabilia from the Fair, but this little
'sidetrip' has been very interesting.  I have enjoyed the search as I do all of the
Dennis Brann

I have students that would believe this story at face value just because it is on the
internet.  I will use it as an example of bogus info.  It is a good example of a story
taking on a life of its own.  It is what Steven Colbert refers to as "truthiness" or truth
by consensus.                                                                                    
Mary Osmar

I didn't know that about Boilerplate. Actually I had never heard of Boilerplate before the
photo quiz. He definitely has the steely eyed resolve to be an effective leader and should
understand the nuts and bolts of good government. In order to seek election in 2008,
Boilerplate was likely viewed as too iron-fisted to sign off on bail-out money or gov't
loans. Oh my!                                                                                     
Don Draper
Guinan estimated that roughly a third of the site's visitors treated its faux history as real.
People fooled by the site include comedian Chris Elliott, who thought the spoof dated
back the 19th century and included the character in one of his books (see below).

Guinan later expanded his website into The History of Robots in the Victorian Era,
which features other "turn-of-the-century robots, both real and imagined".

Fictional Character History

Boilerplate was a mechanical man developed by Professor Archibald Campion during
the 1880s and unveiled at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Built in a small
Chicago laboratory, Boilerplate was originally designed as a prototype soldier for use in
resolving the conflicts of nations. Although it was the only such prototype, Boilerplate
was eventually able to exercise its proposed function by participating in several combat

In the mid-1890s, Boilerplate embarked on a series of expeditions to demonstrate its
abilities, the most ambitious being a voyage to Antarctica.  In 1901 to celebrate the new
century, Boilerplate circumnaviated the glove in what turned
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Answer to Quiz #210 - May 24, 2009
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Quiz #210 Results
Visit our blog at
This robot was unveiled at the Columbian Exhibition in 1893.
1.  What was its name?
2.  Who is supposedly the man to the right of it?
3.  Cite two of its famous adventures.
Many thanks to Mike Dalton for submitting this photo.
1. Boilerplate
2.  Teddy Roosevelt, leading the charge up San Juan Hill with his Rough Riders
3.  There are many, including:

Circumnavigation of the globe
Expedition to Antarctica
Participated in the charge up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt
Boxer Rebellion
Japanese Russian War
Member of Major Whittlesey's Lost Battalion in WWI
Saved Pancho Villa's Life
See for more.
Comments from Our Readers
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Rick and his Quiz Angel Jina Yi
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Anne Alves                Don Draper
Mike Swierczewski                Carl Blessing
Robyn Lang                Tom McChesney
Mikd Vanlandingham                Elaine C. Hebert
Stan Read                Brad Labine
Linda Templar Alexander      Jim Baker          
Marilyn Hamill                Tamura Jones
Delores Martin                Robin Depietro
Caroline Pointer                Betty Chambers
Tammy Evans                Michelle Mounts
Karen Kay Bunting                Milene Rawlinson
Joshua Kreitzer                Suzan Farris
Diane Burkett                Mike Dalton
Lisa Thaler                Jim Kiser
Richard Wakeham                Gary Sterne
Judy Pfaff                Margaret Bonar
Beth Long                George Wright
Carol Lemieux                Phyllis Barattia
Mary South                John Chulick
Betty Ware                Justin Campoli
Wayne Douglas                Dorothy Oksner
Maureen O'Connor                Dennis Brann
Carolyn Cornelius                Shirley Ferguson
Gina Hudson                Mary Osmar
Nancy Lear                Mike Dalton
Robert Steinmann                Venita Wilson
Jocelyn Thayer                Nancy Lear
Fred Stuart                Charles Coats
Kathy Storm                Chris Bucko
Robert Edward McKenna, QPL

Inventor, Archibald Campion named his robot "Boilerplate."
It has been credited with many acts of daring-do.
With Teddy Roosevelt (pictured) used its skills to help,
Save lives of Spanish-American soldiers in the crew.

Numerous actions of military merit were recorded.
While In Mexico, observed to save Poncho Villas life.
Also Boilerplate trapped in the siege of Port Arthur ,
Relived months later as the Russians ended the strife.

The demise of Boilerplate occurred in Wold War I.
As General Pershing used Boilerplate in a new vain.
Participating in the disastrous Battle of "The Lost Battalion,"  
No pieces of Boilerplate were ever found again.

Robert Edward McKenna
Quiz Poet Laureate


Boilerplate has appeared again
He's been in featured news
No one is sure of where he's been
But it's known he's been re-fused.

He may be our next US President
He's a potential candidate.
He appeals to conservs who want a vet,
Someone they'd highly rate.

He also appeals to the younger types
The reason will astound
It's not their need for leadership-
It's his heavy metal sound.

Colleen Fitzpatrick
Understudy to Quiz Poet Laureate
Robert Edward McKenna
How Anne Solved the Puzzle
The photo seemed familiar and I recognized Teddy
Roosevelt in the middle.  It didn't take long to find the real
photo of T.R. and the Rough Riders standing atop San Juan
Hill  in Cuba. But there was no robot!

Next step, search google images for "Rough Riders" and
"Robot".  Once again - "Boilerplate, the robot" appeared with
a link to a website that described Boilerplate and his heroic
exploits after being unveiled in 1893.  But, my instincts told
me this was a fake!

I found the explanation I was looking for in Wikipedia -
Boilerplate was created by a guy in Oregon in 2000 to be
used in a comic book or novel.  He made up a fictional
"history" and put it on the faux website and people believed it!

The "exploits" include taking San Juan Hill with Teddy
Roosevelt's Rough Riders; fighting along side Pancho Villa;
WWI and WWII heroics.
Anne Alves
Boilerplate is a fictional robot of the Victorian era and early 20th century, created in
2000 by Portland, Oregon artist Paul Guinan. Originally intended for comics, the
character became known via a faux-historical website created by Guinan, and has since
appeared in other media.

Boilerplate originally featured on a website created by Paul Guinan in 2000 as an online
The Inadvertent Plagiarist:
Chris Elliott Meets Boilerplate
Publisher's Weekly
Heidi McDonald
November 1, 2005
Read about Chris Elliot's inadvertent use of Boilerplate as a
character in his book
The Shroud of the Thwacker.
pitch for a graphic novel. The Boilerplate
site details the history of a remarkable
robot built in the late 19th century, and
features photoshopped "archival images"
in which Boilerplate (actually a 12-inch
articulated model) is seen interacting with
historical figures, such as Teddy
Roosevelt and Pancho Villa. Becoming
aware that some visitors to the site were
taken in by its contents, making it an
unintentional hoax, Guinan resolved to see
how authentic he could make the
character seem, working to ensure the
descriptions of non-fictional events were
Love Steampunk? How about robots? And what about fictions pretending to be reality?
If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, you're likely to love the heck out
of Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, out from
Abrams Books in October. Abrams was kind enough to send me a preview of the book,
in unbound form, and it's spectacular. The creators of Boilerplate have meticulously
inserted the robot into various phases of twentieth-century history, weaving his story
into our own. The book expands on the original online avatar of Boilerplate.  

A lovely foreword sets Boilerplate up as "the world's first robot soldier," created by
Professor Archibald Campion in 1893 to prevent "the deaths of men in the conflicts of
nations." Since then, Boilerplate has "charged into combat alongside such notables as
Teddy Roosevelt and Lawrence of Arabia." Not only that, he's traveled to the South
Pole, "saved Pancho Villa's life," made silent movies, and "hobnobbed with the likes of
Mark Twain and Tesla." The book purports to tell the story of Boilerplate as "one of
history's great enigmas, a technological breakthrough that languished in obscurity," until

History's Mechanical Marvel
History's Mechanical Marvel
by Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett

Hardcover: 168 pages
Abrams Image (October 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0810989506
ISBN-13: 978-0810989504

Available for pre-order from Amazon
Review by Jeff Vandermeer
April 29, 2009
out to be a failed publicity attempt to
garner interest in its industrial applications.

Boilerplate is one of history's great ironies,
a technological milestone that remains
largely unknown.  Even in an age that
gave birth to the automobile and aeroplane,
a functioning mechanical man should have
been accorded more significance.

Boilerplate is also active in the First World
War, but disappear during the relief of
Major Whittlesey's Lost Battalion, possibly
having been captured by the Germans for study. Supporters of this theory point out
that German military technology advances tremendously in the twenty years between
the two world wars, encompassing guided rockets, experimental jets, and sophisticated
tanks. Post World War II, Boilerplate is sighted on a number of occasions, often in
Boilerplate with Pancho Villa
near Guerrero, Mexico
March 27, 1916
The Shroud of the Thwacker
by Chris Elliott
Miramax Books
September 2006
ISBN-13: 9781401360115
Buy Now from Barnes and Nobel
Chris Elliott
Our quiz photo was drawn
from an article "Victorian
robot is a history emcee" by
Randall Barton that appeared
in the Portland Tribune on
January 22, 2009. You can
read the article at  
Original photo of Teddy Roosevelt with
Rough Riders in Cuba.
Photo of Teddy Roosevelt with Rough Riders
including Boilerplate,
Boilerplate & the all black 10th Cavalry
of San Juan fame.
A Sample of Boilerplate's Remarkable Adventures
In 1894, after the closing of the World’s Columbian
Exposition (where Boilerplate was unveiled), Professor
Archibald Campion embarked on a field demonstration of
his creation. The professor’s plan was to take the
mechanical man to Antarctica to test its abilities in
extreme environments.

The Euterpe was the iron-hulled sailing vessel used for
the first leg of this journey. The ship approached
Antarctica from the Ross Sea. As it neared the Ross Ice
Shelf, it was surrounded and eventually trapped by pack
ice. The crew would have to await the spring thaw in
order to free the vessel.

After five months, the pack ice shifted enough for
Boilerplate to effectively carve out a channel that the
Remark from the Quizmaster General
Euterpe could escape through. The expedition arrived at Cape Evans in the spring of
When the American First Army became official on August 10, 1918, Boilerplate was
attached to Pershing’s staff and functioning in a variety of roles. The metal soldier
participated in the St. Mihiel campaign in September and was to take part in the Meuse-
Argonne campaign in October.

On October 2, 1918, General Pershing ordered the U.S. 77th Division to advance
through the Argonne forest--"no matter what our casualties are."  
Boilerplate's page  
on MySpace

Status: Single
Hometown: Chicago
Height: 6' 6"
Sign: Sagittarius
Occupation: soldier

Comment from Quizmaster Marilyn Hamill
I had doubted the existence of Archibald Campion, too, but
then I found this among all the detrita:  In 1894, The Euterpe
was chartered by explorer Archibald Campion for his polar
expedition, because of the ship's iron hull, and because the
ship had both crew quarters and cargo holds. Interestingly,
Archibald brought along his own invention, an electric motor
with a variety of interesting attachments, which allowed the
crew to power the ship through the ice, and also provided light
and heat. This is the only reference I have found for this man
on the web.