His firm represented not merely the royalty of Europe, but the wealthy and powerful from all over the world. This level of success pushed Jansen to expand his furniture production. He moved his workshop to a larger space on the Rue Saint-Sabin. No provision is made for the reception of the produce of any foreign country not presented by the government of the country, nor is it likely, under the circumstances, that producers would be willing to appear in any other way even if it were practicable, which it is not. Some of the citizens of New York who felt a deep interest in the proper representation of our country in the Universal Exposition, at the request of Mr.
Derby, and with the approbation of the State Department at Washington, organized an " advisory committee" to assist Mr. Derby, particularly in making selections from the numerous applications for admission of products. The services of this committee were gratuitous. It consisted of ten members, one for each of the ten groups as set forth in the programme of the Imperial Commission.
The aid of experts in each group or class was obtained, and great efforts were made, not only in the city of New York, but elsewhere, by journeys through portions of 1 Mr. Evans, of Boston, Massachusetts, chairman of the advisory committee upon Group VI, who died while engaged upon the work of organization. Evans was educated as an engineer at the PScole Centrale, Paris, and his untimely death caused a great loss to the work. They had the benefit of the active co-operation of several State Commissioners, of many societies, and of private individuals, and occasionally had the opportunity of consulting with some of the Government Commissioners.
At a meeting of this advisory committee held in the city of New York, on the fourth day of December, , the secretary, Professor Charles A. Joy, was directed to prepare an abstract of the minutes of previous meetings, and to state what further measures would, in the opinion of the committee, be required in order to carry on the work to a successful completion.
From the report presented in conformity with these instructions, it appears that early in January of the following communication was addressed to Mr. Derby by the committee: " Your communication of the 19th instant, informing us that I upon consultation with prominent citizens interested in the growth and development of the resources of our country,' we had been designated as a c, mmittee to aid you in the selection of proper articles for exhibition in Paris in , has been duly received; and after a brief consideration of the subject, and in compliance with your request, we beg leave to submit tie following suggestions:' This is the first time that the government has proposed to take part in a foreign exhibition.
Hitherto the representation has been by individual effort and without systen, and has been in no sense national. As it appears to us, it is necessary that it be made known to the people of the United States that it is the intention of the government, in view of great and important national considerations, to take. That the government will furnish all the transportation necessary from the seaports of the United States to Paris and back; that it will provide agents to receive, take care of, and return the products furnished; and that it will empower a suitable commission to apply for and receive applications in such detail as may be necessary for selection, and finally to determine what articles are to be asked for, obtained, and forwarded, and that, in defining the duties of such commission, it shall be specially provided that the best products of the several kinds shall be selected, and where there are numerous producers of the same class of products of the same degree of excellence, care shall be taken to apportion the articles among as large a number of producers as possible.
It would be of great service to such commission to have copies of the catalogues of the expositions of , , and , in Europe, and of in the United States. It could order the whole of the larger parts of an engine for a war steamer to be set up in Paris, as a fair indication of our capacity in that class of production. Of course, very much remains to be considered and decided. Joy, sub-committee. Ruggles and Mr. McElrath, of our committee, repeatedly visited Washington to urge upon Congress the necessity for immediate action.
William J. A committee charged with the duty of selecting was organized from among the owners of private galleries and familiar with the condition of art in this country. Want of space also compelled the exclusion of some valuable productions. It therefore seems no more than reasonable that Congress should make an additional appropriation for return freight, premiums of insurance, and the necessary expense of an agent or custodian.
Ruggles, chairman of the committee upon Group V, and commissioner, reported:' The chairman of this group, soon after his appointment by the government in July as one of the ten professional commissioners, for the purpose of securing adequate action by the country personally visited all the States from New York westward to Minnesota and Iowa inclusive, explaining the importance of the Exposition to the interests of the various portions of the United States.
James H. Bowen, of Chicago, and Mr. Henry F. Butler, of Missouri, Mr. Reynolds, of Illinois, and Mr. Wilstach, of Indiana. The magnitude' in number and in bulk of the contributions in Class 40 of this group, the products of mines and metallurgy, rendered it necessary to select only the most important and characteristic portions. It was therefore necessary to call in the aid of experts, not only to make the necessary selections, but to classify, label, and properly pack in boxes the specimens to be sent, and for that purpose to procure suitable rooms and several skilled assistants.
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This labor for a portion of the collections sent to Paris from New York was performed chiefly by and under the direction of Professor Thomas Egleston of the School of Mines of Columbia College, in the city of New York. They had to select from about five hundred applications, and their aim has been to fill up the space allotted to them with representative articles for each class, paying no regard to priority of application, and taking care that every branch of manufacture and of industry comprised in this group should be represented.
This part of the work required careful study, much corresl ondence, and some travel, in order to see and understand, so as to decide knowingly on the merits of the articles for which space was demanded. And it is to be regretted that it was not in the power of the agency to furnish material aid for some of the manufacturers of expensive and complicated machinery, whose exhibition would confer lasting honor upon the mechanical skill of the country without any immediate pecuniary benefit to the owners. Carpenter, chairman of Group VIII, embracing animals and specimens of agricultural establishments, reported: That, under the prohibition by the minister of the interior in France, in view of the danger from the prevalent cattle plague, it was found impracticable to send live animals to the Exposition.
The few articles applied for were transferred to Group V1. There have been about twelve hundred applications for permission to exhibit products. Some of them were made in the name of States,. The number of persons directly interested in the Exposition amounts to several thousands. It would be difficult to form a just estimate; but as only choice articles have been accepted, it can safely be put down at many hundred thousand dollars. To send them to Paris was, in some instances, equivalent to giving them away.
Many of them have expended large sums of money for the purpose of showing to the world what we can produce, and western railroad companies have liberally offered to carry freight for the Exposition free of charge. They should also be authorized, as a body, to appoint a secretary to keep and preserve proper records of their proceedings and their correspondence, and to provide rooms at Paris for meetings and business, with the necessary incidental expenses.
The successful establishment of a coinage of uniform weight and fineness, and common to all the nations of the world, would annually save hundreds of thousands of dollars to the citizens of the United States. In order that such reports may subserve the purpose intended of promoting the advancement of the arts of industry in the country, and thus contributing to the national wealth, they should exhibit not only the present condition of each department, but also some sketch of its history, and some account of the progressive steps by which it has reached its present state of perfection.
They will consequently require a large amount of special study and of correspondence or personal communication with the scientific and practical men of other countries. The purely mechanical labor of digesting the literary material thus collected, and of preparing the illustrations necessary, would be more than sufficient to occupy all the time of the commissioners, were not their proper task a higher one than that of mere historians.
If their labors are to be practically useful, they must be free to study, discuss, and criticise the objects and processes upon which they report, to bring into clear relief whatever is most meritorious in each, and to point out the particulars in which improvement is still to be desired, and the directions in which it may be sought.
They should,. Beckwith, with the intelligent forecast characterizing all his official communications, remarks:'The resolutions presented to Congress on the 21st of December proposed appropriations for a scientific commission of ten members, corresponding to the ten groups of products.
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But this number, unassisted, will not be sufficient. It will devolve upon them not only to make the requisite studies and reports, but also to serve on international juries. The latter service, though requiring much time, will afford the best opportunities for inforInation resulting fron the investigations, experiments, and discussions of the juries. But they will not be equal to the work without assistants, and they can be obtained at a moderate cost. The services of scientific and professional assistants can be engaged, whose special studies, colloquial knowledge of continental languages, familiarity with the continental nomenclature of the sciences and industrial arts, together with their personal acquaintances, access to sources of information and works of authority and local knowledge in general, will render their services as assistants highly efficient.
The scientific commission thus supplemented will be equal to the work required of it, and more useful labor can be accomplished in this way at less cost than in any other way. Our professional and scientific commissioners cannot but deeply feel the disadvantage under whic h they must necessarily labor, unless Congress shall see fit to concede to them the same aid in the execution of their task as will be enjoyed by their fellow-commissioners from other lands. These estimates were made with a perfect knowledge of what other governments were doing, and could have been dictated solely by a patriotic desire, not only to secure to our country all the important advantages which may be made to flow from this great.
His estimates will be found in a published correspondence, in a letter addressed to Mr. Bigelow under date of November 22, , and it will be seen that all the additional appropriations asked for by the undersigned might be made without transcending the limits assigned by him, and which the necessities of the case, as they have developed themselves, have shown to be too low. While these professional men may desire to derive no pecuniary advantage from their connection with the commlission, it cannot be proper or just that they should suffer positive pecuniary loss.
Their services, if properly performed, cannot fail to be of material benefit to the country. If worth having, they are worth paying for. Their terms of service, including the time occupied in going and returning, extend over a period of eight months. A moment's consideration is enough to show that the cost of a voyage to France, out and back, and the necessary expense of living for such a length of time in a foreign capital crowded with visitors, and at prices greatly enhanced, are most inadequately met by the appropriation in the joint resolution.
It would surely be more just, and far more consistent with the dignity of the nation, that provision should be made for the payment of the actually necessary expenses of the ten commissioners, to be duly audited on proper vouchers by any appropriate officer of the government. Derby, and was signed by the chairmen of the admission committees of the ten groups. A special meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of New York was held on Friday, January 12, , to hear the report of the committee, consisting of Mr. Ruggles, Mr. Denning Duer, Mr. George Op. Stranahan, and Mr. Elliot C.
Low in the chair. The Hon.
Ruggles, in behalf of the committee, reported the following resolutions for adoption: "Resolved, That the Chamber of Commerce of New York have learned, with profound satisfaction, that the government of the United States has accepted the invitation of the government of France, to unite with the other governments of the world in the Universal Exposition at Paris, in April, , of the products of each; and will confidently rely on the intelligence and liberality of Congress to make timely and adequate appropriations for exhibiting the products of the American Union on the proposed occasion, in such a manner and on such a scale as shall maintain its just rank among the civilized nations of the earth.
Ruggles supported the resolutions with eloquent and appropriate remarks, after which Mr. Cowdin addressed the chamber on the subject. The resolutions were unanimously adopted, and the committee authorized to forward them to Congress, and also to the various chambers of commerce and boards of trade throughout the country.
Derby of the 24th instant, which contains at once a statement of the situation and my advices to him in conformity therewith, for his guidance. We are, therefore, not in a favorable situation for asking the Imperial Commission to put themselves to further inconvenience. We should be able, first, to report to them the favorable action of Congress, which would carry the assurance that the changes we ask them to make would not be made in vain.
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Previous to that the Imperial Commission cannot act on its own impulse. It is therefore safe to wait and leave the initiative to. When they call on us to report I will respond and make the best terms I can for time; but before this event occurs I fully expect the action of Congress will change the situation and make it more favorable. Bigelow, and we are of one opinion on the subject. I have also discussed it with M. Le Play, and have informed him that I shall at present leave the initiative to him, but that we cannot afford to cut the work short at this stage and spoil it, and must assume that as much time as possible will ultimately be granted.
The letter is accompanied by a plan showing the ground reserved.
Derby to proceed, and that he will be able to close up and send in his report by the time named. Le Play to Mr. In regard to this partition, the architects wish to make a certain number of doors in it, to afford a free circulation. Two opposite fronts, though differing essentially in their 1Translation. The commission is now ready to begin this work, but must first know the plans of exhibitors near the locality. The Imperial Commission is now arranging this department, and,; as it wishes to pay due deference to the plans of the foreign commissions,, the construction of that portion of the edifice will be put off till the 30th of June, hoping to get the necessary information by that time.
Exhibitors should take possession as soon as possible. As the opening of the Exposition approaches, workmen will become more scarce, and they will raise their prices for labor; so it is better to have everything done at once. A strike among the workmen might, moreover, cause some delay toward the last. Of course a modification of the plans can be subsequently made. Send me also a plan of the houses to be erected in the Park, and the trees to be planted by the United States Commission in the allotted space, as announced on the 25th of April last.
I cannot express my surprise and my embarrassment arising from the incompleteness of these reports. I am convinced of your attention, and zeal, and earnestness, and I know you have had difficulties. Derby about twelve months since, and he was recommended to form a suitable committee to advise and assist him. Derby reported in due course that he had formed a board of able assistants, and would proceed with the work as rapidly as possible.
Kate Darian-Smith, Richard Gillespie, Caroline Jordan, Elizabeth Willis
Derby the reports of what has been done; but with the exception of the formation of a part of Group VI, nothing definitive has been done. But the other seven or eight groups are unattempted; the ground is vacant, and presents only imaginary sketches of pro forma plans, similar to those which were sent from. I will thank you to communicate the substance of this letter to each of the parties interested as early as possible.
But there may be those who may be able to see their interest -in it, and, in conformity with the inventors of the plan, and the wishes of the committee, I submit the matter to your consideration. They consider it in the province of contractors themselves to make the investigations on which their offers must be based.
It is an object with the departjnent, in adopting the contract method, to divest itself of the labor and responsibility of the estimates and of the fluctuations of market prices which fall to the side of the undertaker. Indeed, the first step of a contractor should be to make or provide the means of such investigation for himself, as that is a part of the labor and expense intended to be thrown on him and is implied in his contract. But I have made an verbal understanding with the chef de service in the engineering department, by which he agrees to pay lan American contractor the average price paid to French contractors for similar work.
He will be their employe, and under their orders, and will receive his pay from them, but you can assure him the contract upon the basis above named. You will be able also to inform him pretty nearly as to the amount of motive power you will require. This is of moment because the outlay and preparatory expenses of the contractor will be as much nearly for the supply of a small force as for a larger one, while the pay will be in proportion to force.
It is also for the contractor to consider that he must arrive in advance, complete his contract, and see that he has his apparatus in order for work in time; the days get short and weather bad, and work expensive late in the season. I should think October would be as late as it would do to arrive here and commence the placing of apparatus. Derby early in November the general plan and conditions, which have been printed and published in the United States, and desired him to advise me in due time whether or not he would furnish a contractor for the motive force, and if not, to inform me of the amount of force he would require, that I might request the Imperial Commission to supply it.
Derby again, informing him of the necessity of immediate decision. Derby has not been able to arrive at any decision, and I am without information on the subject. They remark, also, that if I cannot comply with either of these demands, the works in general must not the less go on, and they cannot be responsible after the present notice for the inconveniences which may result to us from further delay in this department. Le Play will concede to me, and if advices do not arrive to relieve me from the embarrassment, I must then surrender the privilege of our exhibitors to furnish their own motive force, and request the Imperial Commission to supply it.
I must assume the amount of force we shall need. If, on the other hand, I fix the amount too low, we shall be without the requisite force. But we are now on the fourth month of delay, at our own special request, and I am aware that the works on the Champ de Mars have reached a stage which requires the question of force to be settled. The shafts are 0m.
The revolutions for the French section will be one hundred per minute, but the American section having no connection of movement with neighboring sections, you can choose yourself, according to your wants, the velocity which seems to you most advantageous. OO in diameter. It is, therefore, of great importance to reduce the length of the shafts as much as possible. In the French section the movement is supplied to about 1Translation.
It is confined to certain localities, leaving others without motive force; and finally, in regard to certain localities which require but feeble force, we have provided it, not by transmission direct from the main shafts, but by one of the three following methods: "1. By special motor. By a small secondary shaft in rear. By a shaft under ground. It would seem that this should be sufficient for your wants; if not, or if you wish to substitute the travee indicated by another, which you find more convenient for your installations7 or, finally, if you think you will not have need of this length, I pray you to inform me immediately, in order that I inay consider it while there is yet time.
Certain exhibitors of objects of great height, which occupy two stories, expect to derive great benefit from this platform by carrying a passage from it to their second story. Similar arrangements might be adopted in your section, which would render its appearance more impressive. This sum serves equally for base in our contracts with England and Belgium, and the same should be adopted by you, if, in conformity with my preceding communications, you have organized yourselves your mechanical service with contractors of your country.
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This sum includes also the furnishing and placing completely of the furnace, boiler, engine, transmission, construction of the building for the boilers and furnace, the chimney, the steam-pipes, and the passage in which the pipe is laid, the combustibles, and the persons required for the apparatus. It is also understood that all these materials remain the property of the contractor after the exhibition' I send you herewith a form of contract which indicates the principal conditions of these agreements made directly between the Imperial Commission and the foreign commissioners themselves, and not with those of their countrymen whom they choose for contractors.
This force once fixed as exactly as possible, will indicate the sum to be paid, by multiplying the number of horse-power by six hundred francs. But the sum thus calculated will'be the maximum, and subject to proportional reductions, if by dynamometric observations the power actually furnished be less than the amount named as a basis of calculation. Thus, as I have explained to you in my various communications relative to this object, the Imperial Commission thinks that all considerations unite in favor of making this method general; in this case there will be occasion for a contract analogous to the outline of agreement which I send you.
A longer delay in deciding for your section will tend to compromise the work that is requisite for it, and the Imperial Commission must decline the responsibility from this time for the consequences which further delay may entail. SIR: It is my desire and effort to occupy the attention of the Department as little as possible with details, but some of them should be brought to your notice in passing, that they may be understood. The more we show a disposition to reconsider what has been done and go back to change it, or propose methods which we may think better, but which are not in accord with their methods, the more we come in conflict and embarrass the work.
To avoid this result at this late date is of great importance, and in the endeavor to do this I have several times of late been obliged to place myself in apparent opposition to the proposals from New York, even when I should cordially agree with the object, if it were practicable in the way proposed.
This pressure arises from particular interests, which might have been more fully accommodated at an earlier period if they had come forward, but which it is now more difficult to satisfy. Being unable to comply with this request or to present a contractor acceptable to the Imperial Commission, I abandoned the attempt, and called on them, on the 13th of July, to provide the requisite force, in conformity with the general regulations, of which I duly notified Mr.
Derby and the department. Derby writes on this subject, on the 9th November,'that there is much feeling, among those interested in machinery, about motive force in our section, and they think we ought to have had our own engine and engineer. The result of this delay was that the works went on, and when I was called on finally to close up I was obliged to pay a considerable sum extra to get the power you required, because the preliminary work was too feeble in structure and had to be done over; and, as this was owing to our delay, I was compelled to yield or go without the force.
I surrendered this business from necessity, with a feeling of disappointment and chagrin; and I might use a stronger expression, for I fully believed our people would take that contract freely, and relied on it, and suffered for my mistake. Therefore I have no more to say on that subject but this: feelings which are not strong enough to lead to action are of no value; if our machinists feel sufficient interest in it to buy out the contractor, they can do so, and if not, not.
Derby writes again, on the 13th instant, as follows:'If you will propose to the French contractor for the motive power of the American Section that we will furnish our own power at our own expense, and at the same time allow him to draw his contract money from the Imperial Commission just as if he furnished it according to contract, the money will be supplied by parties here for furnishing this power, as it is considered of the greatest importance, not only by exhibitors but by leading men in this country, that this power should be furnished by an American contractor, and that an American engine and boiler should be used for that purpose.
If he has not, we will furnish them from this side; i. As I have heretofore advised you, there is much feeling here upon this subject-which will not be diminished when the Exposition opens to the view of Americans in Paris-of American machinery propelled by a French engine and French engineer. It is incumbent on the Imperial Commission to furnish motive force, and they retain the entire control of the force. They proposed to accept a contractor for our section, presented by us, provided the contractor would accept of their terms, by which he would become responsible to them, receive his pay from them, and be entirely under their control.
By that arrangement we would continue to look to the Imperial Commission for force, as if we had not presented the contractor; they would take the risk of the contract, and if the machine broke down or any other accident disabled it, the Imperial Commission would be bound to supply its place to us at their expense, they settling with the contractor.
The same condi. These are not our terms, but those of the Imperial Commission, and they are applicable to all foreign nations. We were unable to nominate a contractor in time, as you are aware, and the Imperial Commission made a contract with another contractor. We have never had any control of this contract, nor can the Imperial Commission recall it; it is the property of the holder. He may sell it if he can find a buyer, provided always that the other contracting party-the Imperial Commission-will accept the buyer in place of the seller.
Therefore any party wishing to make this contract must buy out the holder and agree with the Imperial Commission to accept him in place of the seller, and enter into a new contract in that conformity. With this change we have nothing to do, except to oppose it or promote it, according to our interest, as far as our influence may go. Now, I shall be extremely glad to have an American contractor and engine in place of the one we have; it is what we ought to have, and I am ready to do all I can to effect this change, provided always that the new contract will be equal to our wants.
But I cannot propose the canceling of the existing contract, which, if accepted, would leave us at this late date without a positive contract for force; nor would the Imperial Commission listen to such a proposal; neither can I become myself the contractor, which would, in effect, be my position by your proposal. The new contractor must come forward and negotiate for himself; he must agree with the holder on the terms of sale, and till this is done nothing can be done; he must then agree with the Imperial Commission to accept him as a substitute for the other, and enter into the obligations and responsibilities which they require of all contractors.
I will help him in this as far as I can, provided always his offer is equal to our wants and compatible with the general interest of our exhibition, which it is incumbent on me to look after. I think it best, therefore, for me not to make the proposal you suggest, and would recommend your contractor not to begin with such a proposal, because it would come to nothing either with the holder or with the Imperial Commission. The holder is a machinist of reputation and wealth, who wishes to exhibit his machine, and cares very little for the pay.
I do not think he would listen to a proposal to give up his contract and continue to draw his pay; I think he would refuse it; at the same time, if the case were properly stated, and he were asked to name his terms, he might name terms more moderate than the buyer is ready to offer. These are my intpressions, but I cannot undertake this negotiation; it is the business of the new contractor, and I shall be glad if I can help him in it in the way I have suggested, and glad if it succeeds.
The Imperial Commission would not consent to this, and if they did it would only deprive our exhibition of the certainty. From this it is argued by one party that civilization spreads only by extermination, while their opponents maintain that all races are capable of civilization and preservation, and that extermination results only from the ignorance and consequent enmity of races. Oxen, horses, plows, hoes, axes, log-chains, saw-mills, grindstones, spades, farming implements of all sorts, and domestic utensils, are not only provided for them, but white persons of.
The consideration and care of the government and people of the United States for these ancient races are beneficent and even parental. But this fact is little known in the world, and we are frequently reproached with pursuing a cold and cruel policy toward the Indians. The two letters following, from Mr. Seward, explain the absence of an exhibition by the. A branch from the railway which encircles Paris will be laid to connect with the Park, which will facilitate the transport of heavy objects, and suitable machinery for handling and placing them will be provided.
Derby to apply to you for information, and I beg your favorable consideration of the subject. The inquiries are in themselves difficult and the results imperfect, owing to the objections and obstacles often thrown in the way of them, and the reports are defective, which result from such hasty and imperfect studies without the means of comparison.
The following letter from Commissioner Beckwith to Mr. It is likely also that many of those persons whose studies would produce practical and useful results may not be able to afford the whole expense which it involves. The annexed publication emanates from an association collateral to the. The articles of association and method of proposed operation are described in the annexed pamphlet. To enable all these persons to reach, in a safe and easy manner, the great manufacturing and agricultural centers. To furnish them with all kinds of information, through the agency of competent persons, attached to the special service of the administration.
To provide for them capable interpreters. As this chapter will show in its focus on postcards inscribed by exhibition visitors and sent to Australia, exhibition postcards were a vital means of positioning Australians as imperial citizens within the cultural network of the British Empire. While the front side of the exhibition postcard reinforced a sense of colonial membership in the Empire and notions of fraternity and citizenship through the sharing of imperial imagery, the reverse side offered an opportunity for visitors to respond to exhibition displays in a manner that was often, but not exclusively, patriotic.
Through writing on and dispatching exhibition postcards, visitors actively participated in the dissemination of ideas propagated at international exhibitions. As quick impressions or personal anecdotes, responding immediately to the atmosphere or the displays, they offer a complementary perspective to that in the official record. Indeed, they are among the few surviving documents relating to the popular consumption of exhibitions. The images on the front of postcards need to be approached with care when used as historical documents.
The design of postcards occurred within a tightly framed legal and technological context and this prescribed their role and function, but it did not control their contents. Postcard images were often representational rather than accurate depictions of exhibition buildings and displays. This tendency for manipulation of the exhibition image was already evident at the Great Exhibition of where images of displays were packaged for popular consumption in sets of engravings. A clinically symmetrical view of the American Department for example, features the apparently gigantic sculpture, The Greek Slave by Hiram Power, in the central vanishing point of the scene Figure 1.
This is a very powerful image, although the exaggerated height of the sculpture is more representative of the public notoriety the work attained noted by Hobhouse  , rather than its actual size. Steel engravings presented seductive images of international exhibitions scenes either in sets or in the popular press, but by the s photography was increasingly utilised. Photography offered new opportunities for the development of exhibition merchandise. At the London International Exhibition , the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company comprehensively documented the exhibition site and many of these photographic views were subsequently used for stereoscopic cards.
In this form they created a three-dimensional illusion of objects in the exhibition space, seeking to recapture something of the experience of being there. Stereoscopic cards represented many exhibition subjects available across a wide range of themes. Uniquely numbered views became a convention that survived into exhibition postcard publishing well into the twentieth century.
While the stereoscopic card was technically more ambitious than the postcard, being more complex to make and to use, it was a novel and engaging way of disseminating information beyond exhibition sites — an important precursor to the postcard. Exhibition photography offers a comparative means to assess the accuracy of artistic representations of exhibition displays. A watercolour impression of the Eastern Transept misrepresents the scene in a number of significant ways Sweet , 90— Figure 1.
Figure 2. The sheer quantity and variety of exhibition images, ranging from documentary photography to colourful artistic impressions, makes generalisations about their veracity impossible. For example, at the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley —25, although the total number of cards dispatched is unknown, it has been determined that nearly different images were available Perkins and Tonkin , ix. However, it should be noted that photographic images were not necessarily more reliable images than watercolours and engravings.
Aside from the earliest manufacturing processes which hindered the accuracy of the images Carline , 20—21 , Sandberg , — has demonstrated that as early as photographic postcard views of exhibition sites could be deliberately deceptive through the superimposition of misleading settings. Nonetheless, many international exhibition postcards do retain a degree of historical veracity, particularly those photographic cards published in the twentieth century that document the exhibition sites or the displays within particular courts.
Photographic postcard views of Australian displays at the Franco-British Exhibition , for example, can be read as fairly objective. These international exhibition postcards offer an insight into the design of the displays and certainly provide a valuable source of historical information Figures 3 and 4. Figure 3. Figure 4. Ethnographic postcards, however, are in a different category and demand critical contextualisation. Rydell has analysed these in convincing detail, exposing the conventions that underpinned the construction of images of people and their relationship to imperial authority.
This is a crucial reminder of one pitfall of using international exhibition postcards as historical sources: representations of other cultures at exhibitions attained authority and influence through their novelty and association with imperial power, rather than because of any cultural authenticity, and these highly constructed displays were disseminated widely through published postcards, many of which still exist in circulation today.
While a modern standardised system controlled postcards as a means of communication, postcard design also encouraged and legitimised the role of individuals through the production of information in the form of personal messages, short notes, and impressions, which were forwarded to others across great distances. The act of buying and sending postcards and the content of these personal messages can be read as both personal and general, prescribed by shared rituals of cultural consumption at international exhibitions.
Richards has argued that the Great Exhibition , was significant because:. While the majority of visitors to international exhibitions may have gazed at an abundance of objects with desire they could not necessarily possess them. Visitors needed a more accessible tangible connection to their experience, and the availability of the cheap commodity of the postcard answered this need. As objects, postcards cross the private—public divide because they arrive at their destinations without envelopes.
Messages and signatories are therefore in the public domain. This raised pedestrian pavement slowly traversed the city for three kilometres. It was an innovative application of conveyor technology that yielded an engaging visitor experience, providing spectacular views of the principal exhibition buildings. Figure 5. Postcards invited the participation of consumers in the creation of the final product and postcards that have been inscribed and sent ought to be considered as unique objects — no two inscribed postcards are ever the same.
While sending postcards may have occurred within a highly structured set of conventions, imagine the probability of duplication, when consumers of postcards not only selected subjects from a vast range of options, but they also created their own messages. The form of postcards circumscribed and justified a new casual style of writing that allowed authors freedom to be critical without having to justify their argument.
First of all because of the support, doubtless, which is more rigid, the cardboard is firmer, it preserves, it resists manipulations; and then it limits and justifies, from the outside, by means of the borders, the indigence of the discourse The informal nature of postcards gave writers permission to express their active agency as consumers of exhibitions, as demonstrated in the critical views they sometimes penned.
The nature of postcard inscriptions is, unsurprisingly, closer to reflections on exhibition displays that were expressed in personal letters. In this example, Mrs Turton is writing to her acquaintance in the Colony of Victoria about the Great Exhibition
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