Dublin Great Industrial Exhibition 1853

Great Industrial Exhibition

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Quick List Info

Dublin World's Fair 1853

Dates Open - May 13 to October 31, 1853 public. Inauguration May 12. Duration 147 days.

Attendance - Total Attendance 1,156,232. Paid attendance 956,114. Paid attendance included 589,369 who paid at the door and 366,745 who came in with season tickets.

International Participants - Armoral Bearings listed 38 nations and 6 colonies. Final Report included a list of 34 nations and colonies.

Total Cost - L87,302. ($426.907 at $4.89 to L in 1853).

Site Acreage - 12 acres overall; 6.8 acres inside exhibition building.

Sanction and Type - Prior to the Bureau of International Expositions. Would be considered a (Recognized) Expo today like those on the 2-3 or 7-8 years of the decade.

Ticket Cost - Sale of season tickets began March 21 - Men L2 2s, ladies L1 1s, boys L1 1s. Individual ticket on May 13 5s. Admission fee lowered to 2s 6d on May 23. Also reduced to 1s on June 6. Admission price reduced to 6d on Oct. 10.

Photo top center: Drawing of the Dublin Great Industrial Exhibition in 1853, 1853, Marlow Brothers. Courtesy Library of Congress. Column Top: Catalogue from the Dublin 1853 Exhibition, 1853. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Bottom: Dublin Exhibition Building, 1853. Courtesy Pinterest via Archiseek.com.

Dublin 1853 Great Industrial Exhibition

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History of the Event

Dublin 1853 Exposition

Well, if London could do it in 1851, then Dublin was willing to give hosting the world a try in 1853. The city had been host, through the Royal Dublin Society, of a series of every three year fairs since 1834 called the Irish National Exhibition of Manufacturers. When the eighth was about to be planned, the idea of punching up to international status gained favor. William Dargan, railroad contractor, would be its benefactor, paying all expenses, constructing the exhibition building at a cost of 56,000 pounds. Dargan was a rich man, employing 47,000 in 1847 during the Irish famine.

The Temple of Industry was ready for exhibits by March 1 and completed by May. It was 425 feet long, 100 feet high, and 100 feet wide, with additional halls and annexes. Total area of buildings was 300,000 square feet. The lawn of the Leinster House of the Royal Dublin Society had been chosen as the site of the exhibition building. It now houses the Irish Parliament Building. On May 12, the fair was inaugurated before fifteen thousand people of high rank and status; the regular public would have to wait for the next day. By the end of August, the Queen, Prince Consort, and the Prince of Wales had come.

The organizers thought that one failing of London's fair had been a lack in the fine arts. They were poised to correct that. The Fine Arts section at Dublin was considered one of its highlights. The value of the art exhibited was L200,000. The Fine Arts Court had one side devoted to British artists, the other with Germany (Prussia), Belgium, France, and Holland. In total, the exhibits at the entire fair were valued at L500,000; there were seven thousand of them.

Above photo. Drawing of the Interior of the Dublin 1853 World's Fair building, 1853, Illustrated London News. Bottom: Tara Brooch, Exhibit at the Exhibition, 2010. Now exhibited at the National Museum of Ireland. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Dublin 1853 Tara Brooch
Historians criticize the Dublin 1853 Exhibition on several points; that it wasn't really international in character (even though it was small, we'd disagree on that), and that it lost money. It did. William Dargon had to contribute L20,000 to make it whole. But the entire enterprise was constructed and run without government money, which mitigates some of that complaint. Overall, the Dublin Great Industrial Exhibition may not have reached the heights of London's first World's Fair, but it was successful enough for Dublin to think of hosting another, which they did with Dublin's 1865 International Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures.

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Prior to BIE

Dublin 1853 Exhibit

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

Armoral bearings listed 38 nations and 6 colonies.

Nations/Colonies noted in the Final Report: England (Ireland, Wales, Scotland), India (East India Company), Japan, Turkey, China, Persia, Batavia (Djakarta, Indonesia, Dutch East Indies), Marhattas, Java (Dutch East Indies), Siam, Tripoli (Turkey), Sandwich Islands, Egypt, Brazil, Grand Turk, Buenos Ayres, Brabant, Belgium, Ionian Islands, Germany (under Zollverein, (Duchy of Oldenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Schlerwin, Baden, Brunswick, Bremen*, Lubeck*, Hanover*, Hamburgh, Saxony, Prussia*, Bavaria), Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Sardinia (Kingdom of), Portugal, Spain, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, United States. British Guiana, Dutch West Indies also listed.

Nations listed in the Foreign Exhibits section of the Official Catalogue: Zollverein (German Kingdoms), United States, France, Belgium, Holland, East Indies.

Nations listed in the Fine Arts Exhibits section of the Official Catalogue: England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, Prussia, France, Holland, Germany.

Note: It is sometimes difficult to tell whether certain nations actually participated in a significant way. In later years, the London Times would state that only seven nations and one colony took part, which reflects the notion that the list of Armoral Bearing was just for show and did not indicated exhibiting. Take the above as a guide, not gospel.

Expo Tidbits
An estimated 175,000 visitors were brought to Dublin by exhibition during the summer.

"Exposition Expositer" newsletter was published during the fair.

American exhibitors at the fair included Colt Manufacturing Company (pistols and other firearms) and I.M. Singer and Company (sewing machines).

Closing ceremonies took place during the evening of October 31. The number of visitors on the last day was 23,116, marking it the largest day of the fair.

The success of the fine art section prompted the Irish National Gallery in 1854, which is a tribute to Dargan. A statue there to Dargan indicates his contribution.

Dublin Industrial Exhibition 1853

Those in Charge
Cusack Patrick Roney would be the secretary of the event. Building was designed by John Benson. He was knighted at the opening ceremony. General Superintendent was R.A. Thompson; Chief Financial Officer, T.D. Jones. Chairman of the fair Committee was George Roe with Mator Fairfield as Deputy Chairman.

Sources: New York Times; London Times; Louisville Courier; Official Catalogue of the Great Industrial Exhibition: (Royal Dublin Society), 1853; Record of the Great Industrial Exhibition 1853, T.D. Jones (Financial Officer); Fair News; World's Fair Magazine; Wikipedia Commons; Story of Exhibitions; Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs; Ephemeral Vistas; World's Fairs from London 1851 to Chicago 1893; The Exhibition of Art-Industry in Dublin 1853.

Photo column top: Interior of the Dublin 1853 Exhibition, 1853, Original Source Unknown. Courtesy Pinterest. Middle: Medal from the 1853 Exhibition, askboutireland,ie. Courtesy Pinterest.

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