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The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition
of the Works of Industry
Industry
of All Nations or The Great Exhibition, sometimes referred to as the Crystal Palace Exhibition in reference to the temporary structure in which it was held, was an international exhibition that took place in Hyde Park, London, from 1 May to 15 October 1851. It was the first in a series of World's Fairs, exhibitions of culture and industry that became popular in the 19th century, and it was a much anticipated event. The Great Exhibition was organized by Henry Cole
Henry Cole
and Prince Albert, husband of the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. It was attended by famous people of the time, including Charles Darwin, Samuel Colt, members of the Orléanist
Orléanist
Royal Family and the writers Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot
George Eliot
and Alfred Tennyson. Music for the opening was under the direction of Sir George Thomas Smart
George Thomas Smart
and the continuous music from the exhibited organs for the Queen's procession was "under the superintendence of William Sterndale Bennett".

Contents

1 Background 2 Exhibits 3 Admission fees 4 Souvenirs: Lane's Telescopic Views 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links

Background[edit] The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition
of the Works of Industry
Industry
of All Nations was organized by Prince Albert, Henry Cole, Francis Henry, George Wallis, Charles Dilke and other members of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce as a celebration of modern industrial technology and design. It was arguably a response to the highly effective French Industrial Exposition of 1844: indeed, its prime motive was for Britain to make "clear to the world its role as industrial leader".[1] Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, was an enthusiastic promoter of the self-financing exhibition; the government was persuaded to form the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to establish the viability of hosting such an exhibition. Queen Victoria and her family visited three times. Although the Great Exhibition was a platform on which countries from around the world could display their achievements, Britain sought to prove its own superiority. The British exhibits at the Great Exhibition "held the lead in almost every field where strength, durability, utility and quality were concerned, whether in iron and steel, machinery or textiles."[2] Britain also sought to provide the world with the hope of a better future. Europe had just struggled through "two difficult decades of political and social upheaval," and now Britain hoped to show that technology, particularly its own, was the key to a better future.[1] Sophie Forgan says of the Exhibition that "Large, piled-up ‘trophy’ exhibits in the central avenue revealed the organisers’ priorities; they generally put art or colonial raw materials in the most prestigious place. Technology and moving machinery were popular, especially working exhibits." She also notes that visitors "could watch the entire process of cotton production from spinning to finished cloth. Scientific instruments were found in class X, and included electric telegraphs, microscopes, air pumps and barometers, as well as musical, horological and surgical instruments."[3] A special building, nicknamed The Crystal Palace, or "The Great Shalimar",[4] was built to house the show. It was designed by Joseph Paxton with support from structural engineer Charles Fox, the committee overseeing its construction including Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and went from its organisation to the grand opening in just nine months. The building was architecturally adventurous, drawing on Paxton's experience designing greenhouses for the sixth Duke of Devonshire. It took the form of a massive glass house, 1851 feet (about 564 metres) long by 454 feet (about 138 metres) wide and was constructed from cast iron-frame components and glass made almost exclusively in Birmingham[5] and Smethwick. From the interior, the building's large size was emphasized with trees and statues; this served, not only to add beauty to the spectacle, but also to demonstrate man's triumph over nature.[1] The Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace
was an enormous success, considered an architectural marvel, but also an engineering triumph that showed the importance of the Exhibition itself.[2] The building was later moved and re-erected in 1854 in enlarged form at Sydenham Hill
Sydenham Hill
in south London, an area that was renamed Crystal Palace. It was destroyed by fire on 30 November 1936.[4] Six million people—equivalent to a third of the entire population of Britain at the time—visited the Great Exhibition. The average daily attendance was 42,831 with a peak attendance of 109,915 on 7 October.[6] The event made a surplus of £186,000 (£18,370,000 in 2015),[7], which was used to found the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. They were all built in the area to the south of the exhibition, nicknamed Albertopolis, alongside the Imperial Institute. The remaining surplus was used to set up an educational trust to provide grants and scholarships for industrial research; it continues to do so today.[8] The Exhibition caused controversy as its opening approached. Some conservatives feared that the mass of visitors might become a revolutionary mob,[9] whilst radicals such as Karl Marx
Karl Marx
saw the exhibition as an emblem of a capitalist fetishism of commodities. King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, shortly before his death, wrote to Lord Strangford about it:

The folly and absurdity of the Queen in allowing this trumpery must strike every sensible and well-thinking mind, and I am astonished the ministers themselves do not insist on her at least going to Osborne during the Exhibition, as no human being can possibly answer for what may occur on the occasion. The idea ... must shock every honest and well-meaning Englishman. But it seems everything is conspiring to lower us in the eyes of Europe.[10]

In modern times, the Great Exhibition is a symbol of the Victorian Age, and its thick catalogue, illustrated with steel engravings, is a primary source for High Victorian design.[11] A memorial to the exhibition, crowned with a statue of Prince Albert, is located behind the Royal Albert Hall.[12] It is inscribed with statistics from the exhibition, including the number of visitors and exhibitors (British and foreign), and the profit made.

1851 medal The Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace
in London
London
by Allen & Moore, obverse

1851 medal The Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace
in London
London
by Allen & Moore, reverse

Exhibits[edit] The official descriptive and illustrated catalogue of the event lists exhibitors not only from throughout Britain but also from its 'Colonies and Dependencies' and 44 'Foreign States' in Europe and the Americas. Numbering 13,000 in total, the exhibits included a Jacquard loom, an envelope machine, kitchen appliances, steel-making displays and a reaping machine that was sent from the United States.[13]

The Koh-i-Noor, meaning the "Mountain of Light," was the world's largest known diamond in 1851. It was one of the most popular attractions of the India exhibit and was acquired in 1850 as part of the Lahore Treaty. The Daria-i-Noor, one of the rare pale pink diamonds in the world. The early 8th-century Tara Brooch, discovered only in 1850, the finest Irish penannular brooch, was exhibited by the Dublin jeweller George Waterhouse along with a display of his fashionable Celtic Revival jewellery. Alfred Charles Hobbs
Alfred Charles Hobbs
used the exhibition to demonstrate the inadequacy of several respected locks of the day. Frederick Bakewell
Frederick Bakewell
demonstrated a precursor to today's fax machine. Mathew Brady
Mathew Brady
was awarded a medal for his daguerreotypes. William Chamberlin, Jr. of Sussex exhibited what may have been the world's first voting machine, which counted votes automatically and employed an interlocking system to prevent over-voting.[14] The first modern pay toilets were installed, with 827,280 visitors paying the 1 penny fee to use them. The toilets remained even after the exhibition was dismantled. "Spending a penny" became a euphemism for using a toilet.[15] Firearms
Firearms
manufacturer Samuel Colt
Samuel Colt
demonstrated his prototype for the 1851 Colt Navy
Colt Navy
and also his older Walker and Dragoon revolvers. The Tempest prognosticator, a barometer using leeches, was demonstrated at the Great Exhibition. The America's Cup
America's Cup
yachting event began with a race held in conjunction with the Great Exhibition. George Jennings
George Jennings
designed the first public toilets in the Retiring Rooms of the Crystal Palace, for which he charged one penny. Gold ornaments and silver enamelled handicrafts fabricated by the Sunar
Sunar
caste from Sind, British India. C.C. Hornung of Copenhagen, Denmark, showed his single-cast iron frame for a piano, the first made in Europe. "The Trophy Telescope", so called because it was considered the "trophy" of the exhibition.[16] The main lens of 11 inches (280mm) aperture and 16 feet (4.9m) focal length was manufactured by Ross of London. The German equatorial mounting was made by Ransome & May of Ipswich. The instrument maker, J S Marratt exhibited a five-feet achromatic telescope and a transit theodolite used in surveying, tunnelling, and for astronomical purposes.

Admission fees[edit] Admission prices to the Crystal Palace varied according to the date of visit, with ticket prices decreasing as the parliamentary season drew to an end and London
London
traditionally emptied of wealthy individuals. Prices varied from three guineas (£311.05 in 2015)[7] (two guineas for a woman) for a season ticket, or £1 per day (for the first two days only), then reducing to five shillings per day (until May 22).[17] The admission price was then further reduced to one shilling (£4.94 in 2015),[7] per day – except on Fridays, when it was set at two shillings and six pence and on Saturdays when it remained at five shillings.[17] The one-shilling ticket proved most successful amongst the industrial classes, with four and a half million shillings (£22,217,549 in 2015),[7] being taken from attendees in this manner.[18] Two thousand five hundred tickets were printed for the opening day, all of which were bought.[9] Souvenirs: Lane's Telescopic Views[edit]

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The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition
of 1851 encouraged the production of souvenirs, the Lane's Telescopic Views which provided a three-dimensional view of the Great Exhibition of 1851. These were paper souvenirs that were made of printed lithographic cards which were hand-coloured and held together by cloth to give a three-dimensional view of the Great Exhibition. These views offered a miniature view of the Crystal Palace Exhibition when one viewed the cards through the peep hole on the front cover. Visitors purchased these souvenirs so that they could relive the experience of going to the exhibition.

Lane's Telescopic View The Ceremony of Her Majesty Opening the Great Exhibition Inside view grand opening by Queen Victoria

See also[edit]

List of world's fairs 1862 International Exhibition, held in London. Festival of Britain Prince Albert's Model Cottage

References[edit]

^ a b c Kishlansky, Mark, Patrick Geary and Patricia O'Brien. Civilization in the West. 7th Edition. Vol. C. New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008. ^ a b Ffrench, Yvonne. The Great Exhibition; 1851. London: Harvill Press, 1950. ^ Forgan, Sophie (10 February 2000), "A compendium of Victorian culture", Nature, 403 (6880): 596, Bibcode:2000Natur.403..596F, doi:10.1038/35001134  ^ a b " The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition
of 1851". Duke Magazine. November 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2007.  ^ James Harrison, ed. (1996). "Imperial Britain". Children's Encyclopedia of British History. London: Kingfisher Publications. p. 131. ISBN 0-7534-0299-8.  ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 412.  ^ a b c d UK Retail Price Index
Retail Price Index
inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 6 November 2017.  ^ The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. "About Us". Retrieved 1 November 2008.  ^ a b Newth, A.M. (1967). Britain and the World: 1789-1901. New York: Penguin Books. p. 97. ISBN 0-14-080304-1.  ^ Van der Kiste 2004, pp. 206–207. ^ Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. 1851.  ^ "Memorial to the exhibition". Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 18 October 2014.  ^ " The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition
at the Crystal Palace" Archived 14 April 2017 at the Wayback Machine.. Victorian Station. Retrieved 3 February 2009. ^ "The Great Exhibition," Manchester Times, 24 May 1851. ^ https://findery.com/californiawilliam/notes/spending-a-penny-for-the-monkey-closet ^ "Trophy Telescope at Wester Elchies" (PDF).  ^ a b Leapman, Michael (2001). The World For A Shilling. p. 72.  ^ "Entrance Costs to the Great Exhibition". Fashion Era. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

Auerbach, Jeffrey A. (1999). The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition
of 1851: A Nation on Display. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-08007-7.  Gibbs-Smith, Charles Harvard (1981) [1951]. The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition
of 1851 (Second ed.). London: HMSO. ISBN 0-11-290344-4.  Greenhalgh, Paul (1988). Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and World's Fairs, 1851–1939. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-2299-1.  Leapman, Michael (2001). The World for a Shilling: How the Great Exhibition of 1851 Shaped a Nation. Headline Books. ISBN 0-7472-7012-0.  Dickinson's Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Dickinson Brothers. London. 1854. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Great Exhibition.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Crystal Palace.

Official website of the BIE 1851 map Map of London
London
showing the site of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. MAPCO "Memorials of the Great Exhibition" (cartoon) Cartoon series from Punch magazine Charlotte Bronte's account of a visit to the Great Exhibition mytimemachine.co.uk "Great Exhibition of 1851 and its legacy". Architecture and history. Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 14 December 2010.  Great Exhibition Collection in the National Art Library Victoria and Albert Museum "In Our Time" BBC radio programme discussing the Great Exhibition and its impact. Originally broadcast 27 Apr 2006 Royal Engineers Museum Royal Engineers and the Great Exhibition "Watercolours of the Great Exhibition". Paintings and Drawings. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 13 November 2007. 

v t e

List of world expositions

Bureau of International Expositions
Bureau of International Expositions
(BIE)

Retrospectively recognized expositions

London
London
1851 Paris
Paris
1855 London
London
1862 Paris
Paris
1867 Vienna 1873 Philadelphia 1876 Paris
Paris
1878 Melbourne 1880 Barcelona 1888 Paris
Paris
1889 Chicago 1893 Brussels 1897 Paris
Paris
1900 St. Louis 1904 Liège 1905 Milan 1906 Brussels 1910 Turin 1911 Ghent 1913 San Francisco 1915 Barcelona and Seville 1929 Chicago 1933

BIE recognized Universal expositions

Brussels 1935 Paris
Paris
1937 New York 1939–1940 Port-au-Prince 1949 Brussels 1958 Seattle 1962 Montreal 1967 Osaka 1970 Seville 1992 Hannover 2000 Shanghai 2010 Milan 2015 Dubai 2020 Expo 2025

BIE recognized specialized expositions

Stockholm 1936 Helsinki 1938 Liège 1939 París 1947 Stockholm 1949 Lyon 1949 Lille 1951 Jerusalem 1953 Rome 1953 Naples 1954 Turín 1955 Helsingborg 1955 Beit Dagan 1956 Berlín 1957 Turín 1961 Munich 1965 San Antonio 1968 Budapest 1971 Spokane 1974 Okinawa 1975 Plovdiv 1981 Knoxville 1982 New Orleans 1984 Plovdiv 1985 Tsukuba 1985 Vancouver 1986 Brisbane 1988 Plovdiv 1991 Genoa 1992 Taejŏn 1993 Lisbon 1998 Aichi 2005 Zaragoza 2008 Yeosu 2012 Astana 2017 Buenos Aires 2023

BIE recognized horticultural exhibitions (AIPH)

Floriade 1960 Hamburg 1963 Vienna 1964 Paris
Paris
1969 Amsterdam 1972 Hamburg 1973 Vienna 1974 Montreal 1980 Amsterdam 1982 Munich 1983 Liverpool 1984 Osaka 1990 Zoetermeer 1992 Stuttgart 1993 Kunming 1999 Haarlemmermeer 2002 Rostock 2003 Chiang Mai 2006–2007 Venlo 2012 Antalya 2016 Beijing 2019 Almere 2022 Łódź 2024

Cancelled exhibitions

Rome 1942 Chicago 1992 Vienna and Budapest 1995 Metro Manila 2002 Seine-Saint-Denis 2004

Not BIE recognized

Asia

Nanyang 1910 Hangzhou 1929 Nagoya 1937 Shenyang 2006

Europe

London
London
1756 Dublin 1853 Manchester 1857 Porto 1865 London
London
1871–1874 Lyon 1872 Vienna 1873 Amsterdam 1883 Liverpool 1886 London
London
1886 Copenhagen 1888 Glasgow 1888 Frankfurt 1891 Prague 1891 Lyon 1894 Oporto 1894 Berlin 1896 Glasgow 1901 Cork 1902 Hanoi 1902 London
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1905 London
London
1906 Marseille 1906 Dublin 1907 London
London
1908 Zaragoza 1908 London
London
1910 Dresden 1911 London
London
1911 London
London
1912 Lyon 1914 Cologne 1914 London
London
1914 Kristiania 1914 Malmö 1914 Semarang 1914 London
London
1921 Marseille 1922 British Empire Exhibition
British Empire Exhibition
1924–1925 Antwerp 1930 Stockholm 1930 Paris
Paris
1931 Porto 1934 Glasgow 1938

North America

New York City 1826–1897 Bryant Park, New York City 1853 Atlanta 1881 Louisville 1883–87 New Orleans 1884 Atlanta 1887 San Francisco 1894 Atlanta 1895 Nashville 1897 Omaha 1898 Buffalo 1901 Charleston 1901–1902 Portland, Oregon 1905 Jamestown 1907 Seattle 1909 Knoxville 1913 San Diego 1915–1917 Bronx 1918 Philadelphia 1926 San Diego 1935–1936 Dallas 1936 Cleveland 1936–1937 Dallas 1937 San Francisco 1939–1940 New York City 1964–1965

Oceania

Melbourne 1866 Sydney 1870 Melbourne 1875 Brisbane 1876 Sydney 1879 Dunedin 1889 Christchurch 1906 Auckland 1913–1914 Dunedin 1925 Wellington 1939–1940

South America

Buenos Aires 1910 Rio de Janeiro 1922

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