The Great Exhibition.

An article from a reprint of No. 1 of the Wells Journal Saturday August 2, 1851

sent in by

Ted Stevens

The appearance of the Crystal Palace on this day week seemed to indicate that that most fashionable of days will soon be left mainly to the ticket holders. For some hours after the opening the interior was almost a solitude, chequered, only by the Bath chairs of the invalids that moved slowly to and fro with the most perfect freedom of way. In the afternoon the fashionable loungers mustered in tolerable force, but, after all, the day’s was the smallest assemblage of the season. The scene had not the imposing appearance of a great shilling day, with its thousands of people moving slowly, not by individuals, or by groups, but by masses, and, as it were, by some general impulse; but on the other hand the temperature was delightfully cool, and those visitors who had made the increased pecuniary sacrifice were amply rewarded by the opportunity afforded them for a comfortable and leisurely inspection of the goods, and by the sight of many attractive objects, which are never even approachable on shilling days.

To those who can afford the money, and at the same time find it necessary to study economy in time, Saturday is, undoubtedly, the best day for a visit to the Exhibition, as on that day one can certainly see much more in one day, and in comfort too, than could possibly be managed in five shilling visits. The Fine Arts court is a very mine of attractive objects; but many of these being small, are completely smothered by the crowds who assemble round the Mexican figures and other prominent features.

In the comparative quiet of yesterday we were much struck, for instance, with a specimen of leaf gilding upon plaster, the subject being an equestrian statuette, and the effect that of the most splendid gilt bronze, This figure is very suggestive, as showing how cheap and attainable might be made a now very costly species of ornament. If the aid of the electrotype were brought in, there is no knowing the extent to which this gilding of small plaster casts might be carried,

There are also some fine specimens of carving on shells, which never see the light except on Saturday, a circumstance the more to be regretted when we recollect the patient industry as well as taste that must have been necessary to bring such articles to perfection. One, on ostrich eggshell, is particularly deserving of notice, being ornamented with an elaborate design in relief, cut out of the thickness of the shell.

Many attractive articles are now being gradually released from their obscurity, by being brought from the back courts and placed prominently in the nave. This was perceptible on Friday in the case of the Genevese watches; and yesterday a similar process placed before the public a very singular and beautiful chess table, which was much and generally admired. It is the work of a gentle­man named Graydon, and, independently of its costly decorative beauty, displays in its design an amount of antiquarian reading which would have delighted the great Wizard of the North, had he been alive to pore over its chivalric accessories. The pieces, by a happy conception, represent the Saracens and Crusaders; every one, kings, queens, knights, bishops, and pawns having a pedigree showing his connection with the Crusaders. They are all well carved, and have this recommendation, that they are made to be played with, without rough corners to knock each other down, and with such a correct centre of gravity as to stand upright except on very strong provocation. The chess-player will, easily understand the value of this peculiarity. The squares represent the banners and devices of the holy war, and the sides are ornamented with friezes copied from the celebrated ones of Schwanthaler, at Munich. The table itself is Italian walnut, and is supported by saracenic pillars copied from the best authorities. The work has evidently been the result of curious reading, much patience and research, and high veneration for the “game of games”, and only wants, we feel sure, to be more generally known to become the cynosure of at least all chess-players eyes at the Exhibition. Another singular article which Saturday's room gave the visitors an opportunity of examining was the cloth of two colours, exhibited by Mr. Partridge, This very curious fabric, which is intended for military cloaks, is a bright scarlet on one side and an equally bright blue on the other. This art of double dyeing must have been in vogue many years ago, as a piece of cloth of two colours was one of the rarities taken by lord Amherst to China as presents to the Emperor, but its presentation was prevented by the well known rupture of the negotiations. But the art Was subsequently lost, and to the present exhibition belongs the merit of its revival.

The latest arrival has been three tusks of an elephant, the finest specimens ever imported into this country, the property of an English gentleman of fortune, who resided in Southern Africa for a number of years, and these specimens, from the following description, may fairly be entitled the Mammoth tusks, each measuring 8 feet 6 inches in length, by 22 inches in circumference, and weighing 164 lbs. each. They arrived in this country per Bosphorus steamer, from the Cape of Good Hope, and were brought from the immediate vicinity of the Great Lake lately discovered in Southern Africa. They have already attracted the notice of the scientific, and naturalists will, doubtless, be on the qui vive to ascertain to what age the animal could live to produce such huge tusks.

One of the French stands, that of M. Matifat, was enriched on Saturday with some splendid photographs, just arrived from Paris, representing the interior of the Crystal Palace in various aspects, and the most admired groups of statuary. They had been originally taken on glass, and were subsequently transferred to paper in Paris, and are now certainly amongst the most faithful and beautiful of the Exhibition pictures. Among others, the copy of the well-known Godfrey of Bouillon was the subject of general admiration.

But the Exhibition presents almost every day some new attraction to the visitor, .and it is also satisfactory to know that it is producing satisfactory results to the spirited caterers of the feast. As a singular illustration of this, we. may mention that one of the exhibitors of chemical preparations has received more orders, in consequence of the advertisement which the Exhibition has proved to his goods, than he can possibly execute. The same good fruits are being reaped in many of the English departments, and the French, while complaining that the attractions of London have made a thin season in Paris, at the same time admit that what they have lost in customers at present has been amply made up by the orders they have received from London since May 1st. Another instance nearer home is that of Pim Brothers, of Dublin, one of the exhibitors of Irish poplin. Previous to the opening of the Crystal Palace three looms supplied all their orders for poplin, while now forty are barely sufficient, and the trade is still increasing.

It is thus that every day's experience illustrates the soundness of the views which originated this great re-union of the industry of all nations. The juries have all completed their tasks, but their decisions will remain a sealed book until the close of the Exhibition. The finance committee sat on Saturday, and Prince Albert was expected up from Osborne to preside, but the committee were obliged to dispense with the attendance of his royal highness. The only new goods added to the collection were some black silks of a peculiarly rich description, which were for the first time placed in Swan and Edgar’s case in the gallery. The total numbers were 10,399,

The Exhibition continues nearly as attractive as at first, with the exception of the five shilling days, which the departure of fashionables from town, after the example of the Court, appears likely to bring to a very low ebb. The following are the numbers of visitors and amounts received:—On Wednesday week, 50,599-£2,438 14s.; Thursday, 44,458—£2,286 Is.; Friday, 26,882—£2,990 6s.; Saturday, 10,339 — £1,484 6s.; Monday, 67,170 — Tuesday, 68,496: making the total, since the opening, 2,756,990. The amount received was, at the doors, £3,281 10s.; for season tickets, £6, 6s: making the total receipts since the commencement, from the former source, £187,493 15s. and from the latter, £66,644 11s.

The two first accidents in the building that have called for notice occurred on Tuesday. The Acis and Galatea fountain of Mr. Thomas, exhibited in the nave, fell down with a great crash. This fountain was, we believe, built, upon the flooring of the building, and not upon any foundation of its own, and the vibration of the flooring, in connection with the hasty and faulty manner in which the fountain had been erected, led to the downfall and perfect wreck which it now presents. The second casualty, which, fortunately, was not attended, with any personal injury, occurred in the Mediaeval Court, In the eastern part of the court, occupied by Messrs. Hardiman, was an altar piece, above which, and suspended from an ornamental beam or cornice, were a number of silver lamps, each containing candles. The beam was supported by cords secured to the girders of the galleries, the constant vibration of which had fretted away the substance of the cords, and yesterday the whole mass felt to the ground. The amount of damage done was very considerable.

On Monday, from an impression that, owing to the eclipse, visitors might have to grope their way through a darkness hardly visible, the committee had all the gas lamps in the interior put in requisition. Some amusement was caused by this excessive amount of precaution for a great transparency like Mr. Paxton’s Palace of Glass.

A correspondent suggests that next year the building should be devoted exclusively to an exhibition of painting and sculpture of all nations, the English societies closing for the occasion.

Mr Hobbs, the American exhibitor of locks, has succeeded in picking one of Chubb’s patent detector locks, and rcclosing it before a number of gentlemen, before whom he was invited to test his vaunted abilities. He is now about to try his hand on Bramah’s celebrated lock, for which a reward of .£200 is offered to any one succeeding in so doing-The look is to be enclosed between two boards, sealed by the committee, and nothing but the hole for the key is to be exposed to view, and thirty days is to be the period allowed for opening it. The experiment is looked forward to with considerable interest by all persons connected with the trade. We may add, that Mr. Hobbs exhibits a lock, and offers a reward of £200 to any one person who can pick it, or form a false key which will open it, after examining the lock and key for any period they may please.


Agricultural Section of the Great Exhibition.

Miscellaneous Implements used in Agriculture.

One useful article is an “irrigator, liquid-manure pump”, garden and fire-engine, invented, manufactured, and exhibited by E. Weir, of Oxford-street. It consists of a lever pump and air vessel, upon wheels, and is for the purpose of pumping fluid direct from the tank or reservoir, and distributing it at once on the land by means of a branch pipe and spreader. With the power of one man at the pump, and another to direct the nozzle of the pipe, it will throw twenty-five gallons per minute through any moderate length of pipe, without a considerable rise in the ground between the site of the tank and the part to be irrigated; so that by its use, land in the vicinity of the supply may be irrigated to the extent of some hundred feet in all directions. It may be of great use also as a farm fire engine, as it will throw more than twenty gallons a minute to a height of forty feet from the end of the nozzle, which would enable it to reach every portion of the usual form-buildings, ricks, &c. The whole of the fittings are of brass, and there is no leather or other matter which will decay from alternations of moisture and dryness, or be injured by the acids and salts of the manure. The delivery pipe is of the best canvass, lined with gutta percha; the suction pipe is of gutta percha; and should this meet with anyaccident, be cut in two by a cartwheel passing over it, or any other mischance a farm labourer, with a pail of hot water, can repair it as strongly as if sent back to the manufacturer. This maker also exhibits a draining level, perhaps unequaled fur simplicity and cheapness, combined with accuracy.

Though bee-management belongs more to the horticultural than the agricultural portion of a newspaper, we cannot help saying a word about one bee-hive, which struck us as right in its principle, and most simple in its construction. It is called the “Multiple Box Hive," and was invented by W. Keene, of Harpur Street, Bloomsbury. These hives are merely wooden boxes, having a slit for entrance on one side near the top, below ' which is a sloping ledge passing all round the outside. A hive ought to allow the bees access at points convenient for the labour to be performed, the work. always begins from the top, and natural hives chosen by bees have generally the entrance from the top. The common hive gives the bees labour in carrying his load upwards; it has been found by experience that when the bees enter at the top, the hive fills more rapidly with comb and honey. In the multiple hive all the boxes are alike; when one is filled, another is added the bees taking to it just like the other. Swarming being thus prevented.

We would like to thank the Editor of the Mid Somerset Newspapers Ltd., for giving permission to use this article from their souvenir printing of the No 1 issue of 1851.


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