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1st World's Fair
On Sale Now
Book on the selection
and prospects of the
Vancouver Olympic Games
The Vancouver Games: A Spectacular Choice.
Read the first book based on the results of the World's Fair Decision Model Project. The reasons why the Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia will host a great Winter Olympic Games are many. Geopolitical. A great bid plan. But the outstanding experience of Vancouver with hosting Expo '86 , with its ranking as the best Special Category World Expo in history, bodes extraordinarily well for Vancouver and the Olympic movement in 2010.
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History of the Event
Exhibitions were part of the landscape in continential Europe as well as the English isles from the beginning of the late 1800s with the Society of Art hosting annual exhibitions from 1845 forward. When the idea of hosting the next in the series of national exhibition for 1851 was brought forward, the idea of turning it into an international event was broached.
This idea was not a new one, as other events had both solicited foreign contributions, i.e. Birmingham 1849, only to receive none, and the French national exhibition in the same year desired to be international, but the idea did not go over well with French manufacturers who did not want to compete against foreign products. On June 30, 1849, Prince Albert met with several colleagues, including Henry Cole, who had recently visited the Paris national exhibition and their idea, although turned down, of making in an international event. Prince Albert concurred and the committee agreed on six goals.
1) ... that the exhibit would have four divisions, (raw materials, machinery, manufactured products, and sculpture and plastic art generally.)
2) ... that it would be held in a temporary building in Hyde Park
3) ...that the scope would be International.
4) ...that substantial prizes
should be offered.
5) ...that a Royal Commission,
with Prince Albert at its head,
should carry out the plans.
6) ... and that funds would be raised by voluntary subscriptions and collected by the Royal Society of Arts.
On January 3, 1850, a Royal Commission was granted charter by the Government, taking over responsibilily from the Society of Arts.
A subscription fund was launched on January 25, with the first list headed by the Queen and Prince Albert. By end of February, 70,000 pounds were subscripted, but more donations came in slowly.
After that hesitant beginning, the guarantee fund rose to 350,000 pounds. The site problem was overcome by the approval of Hyde Park. And Joseph Paxton solved a third problem, of a temporary building of sufficient scope, by proposing the glass and iron Crystal Palace, which required only 17 weeks to erect building.
Inside the huge nineteen acre construction, half of the gallery exhibit space was taken by British goods and the remaining space, foreign. More than 40 different countries and their possessions were represented, including France, the most prominent.
The opening ceremonies were held on May 1 with Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, present and pleased. Attendance of over 6 million traipsed past the exhibits during the fair, and after the even was completed, a surplus of 200,000 pounds remained as profit. The surplus was used to acquire land in South Kensington, adjacent to the site. Subsequent years saw the granting of help to the foundations of educations institutions to build on that land and establish a system of scholarships, some of which last until this day.
The Crystal Palace itself was rebuilt in a larger version at Sydenham, and used as centre of popular entertainment, instruction, and cultural activities until it was destroyed by a fire in 1936.
Source: The Story of Exhibitions
Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Great Britain,
States of Zollervein
(Germany not established until 1870, individual kingdoms/states were listed)
... Anhalt, Bavaria, Baden, Bremen, Brunswick, Hesse,
Hesse-Darmstadt, Nassau, Prussia,
Saxony, Saxe-Meiningen , Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Lubeck, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Nuremburg, Thuringia, Wurtemburg...
New Granada (Columbia)
(Italy not established until 1861,
individual kingdoms/states lited until then)
... Rome, Sardinia, Tuscany, Naples ...
Sweden & Norway
United States of America
Colonies & Protectorates
Cape of Good Hope
West Coast of Africa
New South Wales
Van Diemen's Land
Labuan and Borneo
3 pounds 3 shillings for men ($15.75),
2 pounds 2 shillings for women ($10.50)
Number of Season Tickets Sold: 25,605 and used 773,766 times,
for average use of 30.22.
London 1851 -
Outside the Great Exhibition
Other London commercial exhibits and government attractions around London had a banner year in 1851 due to the opening of the Crystal Palace.
Reports from the Participants
The Great Exhibition of 1851 –
the mental Olympic games
of the united
25 Finsbury Circus, London
As the labours of the Greek Committee in connexion with the Great Exhibition
of 1851 are now terminated, the Committee desire me,
before separating, to express to
His Royal Highness Prince Albert,
and the Royal Commissioners, their
most grateful thanks for the unceasing support and valuable facilities
invariably afforded them upon every occasion, during the tenure of their office, in their efforts to carry into
effect the part assigned them in those
gloriously conceived and newly
revived Olympic games,
in which not the physical, but
the mental powers of the united world have been called into friendly
competition, in order to augment and advance the sources of happiness, and the well-being of mankind.
The Committee feel it a pleasurable
duty to request the Royal Commissioners
to convey to the indefatigable Captain Owen their especial acknowledgments
for his constant urbanity, valuable advice and assistance, upon all occasions
when referred to; which not only lightened their exertions, but proved most advantageous,
by enabling them to complete their arrangements in an efficient
manner. I have the honour to be,
with the highest respect and consideration,
Your most obedient, most humble Servant,
(In the absence of the President of the Greek Committee,)
The Royal Commissioners of the Great Exhibition of 1851
Source: OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION AND ILLUSTRATED CATALOGUE
OF THE GREAT EXHIBTION 1851’
published by Spicer Brothers,
Much thanks to John Greatrex at the Crystal Palace Foundation
for pointing out this report.
Those in Charge
The Royal Commission included...
Lord John Russell, then Prime Minister,
Sir Robert Peel,
Lord Granville, Vice President of Government
Charles Barry, architect,
Robert Stephenson and
William Cubitt, engineers,
Sir Charles Eastlake, President of the Royal Academy, and
Sir Charles Lyell, geologist.
Detailed work continued in hands of the Trustees, Treasurers, and an Executive Committee formed from the Society of Arts. Scott Russell and Sir Stafford Northcote were the two joint secretaries with Henry Cole on Executive Committee.