266. Exposition Universelle
“Ev'ry duke and earl and peer is here.History.
Ev'ryone who should be here is here.
What a smashing, positively dashing
Alan Jay Lerner / Frederick Loewe, “My fair lady”, Ascott gavotte
“The idea ... must shock every honest and well-meaning Englishman. But it seems everything is conspiring to lower us in the eyes of Europe.”
King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover
about the Great Exhibition of 1851
“The generosity of nature can be transformed into the universal harmony of all nations.”
Logo of the Exposition universelle
“Down with war! Let there be alliance! Concord! Unity!.. Thou art destined to dissolve utterly, radiating outward, transcending thy frontiers. Resign thyself to thy immensity. Adieu, O people! Hail, Humankind! Submit to thy sublime and fateful enlargement, O my country; and as Athens became Greece, as Rome became Christianity, thou, France, become the world!”
Victor Hugo, “Paris Guide” 
“The study of uranium, starting with its natural sources, will lead to many more discoveries, I boldly recommend those who are looking for objects for new research to deal with uranium compounds very carefully.”
Mendeleev after seeing the first samples of the uranium at the the Exposition universelle
of 1867 
The idea of the international exhibitions was not new. The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, also known as the Great Exhibition or the Crystal Palace Exhibition, was an international exhibition which took place in Hyde Park, London, from 1 May to 15 October, 1851. The goal was plain and simple: to show the British superiority and, indeed, the British exhibits “held the lead in almost every field where strength, durability, utility and quality were concerned, whether in iron and steel, machinery or textiles.”
But, the boasting aside, this exhibition produced some very important results of the international importance:
It proved that, contrary to the gloomy expectations, the huge numbers of visitors (up to 6,000,000 visited it) did not turn into a revolutionary mob.
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. 
Last but not least, the exhibition demonstrated the first modern pay toilets.
A lock operating on a penny coin dropped into the slot was invented by John Nevil Maskelyne
, an English stage magician
but the toilets themselves, so-called ‘Monkey Closets’,
installed in the Retiring Rooms of The Crystal Palace.
had been made by a man named George Jennings, a Brighton plumber. They caused great excitement as they were the first public toilets anyone had ever seen (well, except for the Ancient Rome, of course), and during the exhibition 827,280 visitors paid one penny each to use them. For ‘spending a penny’, they received a clean seat, a towel, a comb and a shoe shine. After the exhibition these toilets had been established on the streets of London but admission fee was raised to 2 pennies.
Obviously, these toilets produced much more natural interest than the obscure items like the big telescopes (why would you care?), single-cast iron frame for a piano
, precursor to the fax
machine (how many people at that time could use it at home or even at office?) or even the tempest prognosticator operated by the leeches.
Well, of course a huge diamond looted in Punjab also was a hit but, unlike the Monkey Closet, the interest was a purely abstract one.
The admission fees had been two guineas (3 for a man - so who actually was discriminated?) for a season or £1 per day which after the first two days was reduced to five shillings per day until 22 May and then down to 1 shilling to make it affordable to the “deserving poor” with the special discounts on the railroad tickets (for those living far from London) offered through the local parishes. The undeserving poor could entertain themselves by lining up by the rail tracks to watch the long trains of open carriages steaming past. Which was providing something for everyone.
Financially, exhibition was a smashing success producing a surplus of £186,000 (£18,465,170 in 2021).
The next London exhibition happened in 1862 and was far from being as exciting as the first one, which is rather easy to explain: it was presenting numerous pieces of various heavy machinery and who can get excited at the sight of parts of Charles Babbage
's analytical engine
The early version of a refrigerator was, of course, a smashing success but the fabrics, rugs, sculptures, furniture, plates, porcelain, silver and glass wares, and wallpaper could be easily observed for free in the local shops and, if somebody was interested in the statuary, in the local cemeteries as well.
There was a musical component with the list of invited composers not being too impressive except for Verdi but controversy involving Verdi's contribution, the cantata Inno delle nazioni
, prevented the work from being included in the inaugural concert .
As a result, probably the most exciting event of this exhibition was an accident the opening of the exhibition on 1 May 1862: one of the attending Members of the British Parliament
, 70-year-old Robert Aglionby Slaney
, fell onto the ground through a gap between floorboards on a platform (err.. weren’t the Brits perfect in everything including quality?). He carried on with his visit despite an injured leg, but died from gangrene
that set in on the 19th.
Financially, it more or less got even.
Exposition of 1867.
The French already had Exposition Universelle in 1855 but it it was not up to the level of London’s Exhibition of 1851 in the number of visitors (5,162,330 vs. 6,000,000) and financially it was a complete failure (expenses amounted to upward of $5,000,000, while receipts were scarcely one-tenth of that amount). Now it was a matter of a national pride to prove that the French could and should again surpass the efforts of their ancient rival and sometime ally.
In a letter addressed to Emperor Charle, Eugène Rouher, one of the French commissioners to the London Exhibition of 1862, set forth the first proposal for the 1867 exposition:
Sir: After the closure of the London Exposition, and before the distribution of awards, on the 25 of January, the principal exhibitors manifested their desire for a universal exposition to be opened in Paris in the year 1867. Many among this group will meet together to propose to the Imperial Commission a subscription by which the government may share the costs of this enterprise.
Visitors would see more than just a bigger and better show in 1867. In its attempt to classify and organize every branch of human activity, and to invest that activity with moral purpose, the coming exposition universelle
symbolized the encyclopedic ambitions of the French Empire. Every aspect of the Parisian exposition, from the overall plan for exhibits to the final awarding of medals, would proceed from a single conviction: the bounty of nature could be transformed into universal harmony for the human race. To spread this message, the Empire enlisted the some of best talent in France to proclaim Paris not only the host of the exposition, but the seat of a new order for the human race. Victor Hugo was commissioned to write the introduction to the Paris Guide
for 1867; Theophile Gautier, to introduce visitors to the treasures of the Louvre; Alphonse Viollet-le-Duc to show the proud heritage of the cathedrals of Paris. Hippolyte Taine, Alexandre Dumas fils
, Ernest Renan, Sainte-Beuve — all contributed the powers of their pens to promote the glory of La France. The Paris Guide
that year was a showcase for the intellectual power of France's writers, just as the great oval palace on the Champ de Mars would be the showcase for her industrialists and artists.
By that time Paris was a marvel to behold. Visitors who had not been to Paris in a decade or more were astonished to experience the dramatic transformations in the look and life of the city. The will of the emperor and the ésprit de géometrie
of Baron Haussmann had demolished many a slum, and many venerable but inconveniently situated old buildings; broadened streets and converged them into central focal points; and created an extensive municipal park system. Beneath the streets, gas lines for lighting and heating and new water and sewer pipes for home and industry brought the benefits of technology into the lives of every Parisian. The technological progress and "greatest good for the greatest number," so heralded at the first exposition universelle
in 1855, was coming into being at last.
The site chosen for the Exposition Universelle of 1867 was the Champ de Mars
, the great military parade ground of Paris, which covered an area of 119 acres (48 ha) and to which was added the island of Billancourt
, of 52 acres (21 ha). The principal building was rectangular in shape with rounded ends, having a length of 1608 feet (490 m) and a width of 1247 feet (380 m), and in the center was a pavilion surmounted by a dome and surrounded by a garden, 545 feet (166 m) long and 184 feet (56 m) wide, with a gallery built completely around it. In addition to the main building, there were nearly 100 smaller buildings on the grounds. There were 50,226 exhibitors, of whom 15,055 were from France
and her colonies.
, boats capable of carrying 150 passengers, entered service conveying visitors along the Seine to and from the exhibition. There was also a new railway line built to convey passengers around the outer edge of Paris to the Champ de Mars.
Two double-decker hot air balloons, the Géant and the Céleste, were moored to the site to take groups of 12 or more people for flights above the grounds. There was a small private art exhibition of Monet and Courbet just outside Exhibition’s ground and several citizens of the British Empire who occasionally got there are uttering cries of "Shocking!" as they observe the paintings 
The exposition was wisely surrounded by a ring of the eating places of all cultures so, strictly entre nous
, why would a reasonable person bother to join all these crowds inside when everything really important
could be studied by conveniently sitting at the table? It seems that the cocktails (part of the American cultural exposition) were a smashing success while the Russian caviar was dismissed as “cochonnerie russe”
(just you wait a little bit and you are going to pay a lot of money for it…
The park surrounding main exhibition was filled with all types of the attractions including the lighthouse 50 meters in height, a full-size Gothic cathedral, the aquarium, Tunisian palace, and all types of the ethnic pavilions including quite exotic ones including the Chinese and Japanese pavilions.
and …err… “traditional Russian izbas”, which, except for a demonstrated skills of the carpenters, were a complete BS with their floors made out of the solid oak boards and the window- and door-frames out of a polished larch.
Speaking of the Russian exhibition, it contained predominantly ethnographic and mineral items (like a piece of malachite weighting over 2 tons): AIII made it clear to the Russian officials in charge that there is no need to be too open about the level of the Russian industrial and scientific development. A group of the very serious scientists (including Mendeleev who later wrote 200 pages long report regarding advances of the chemical industry and their applicability for the Russian needs ) had been sent to assess what was exhibited and make the conclusions. Still, the Russian exhibition included more than 1,300 items and got 476 awards including two Grand Prix (one to academic Jacoby for work in galvanoplastics and another to AIII … for improvements in horse breeding ).
Since the time of the first world's fair at London in 1851, the guiding principal was exhibition of products by nation. Within the confines of the space allotted to them, nations could display whatever they wanted, and wherever they pleased. In the Palais du Champ de Mars in 1867, however, the first effort was made to integrate these two organizing principals — nations and products — into one coherent system.
The classification system of the 1867 exposition universelle
recognized ten fundamental divisions of human endeavor. Each of these ten groups was further divided into classes, or subgroups:
Group I — works of art (subdivided into five classes)
Group II — apparatus and application of the liberal arts (eight classes)
Group III — furniture and other objects for use in dwellings (thirteen classes)
Group IV — clothing, including fabrics and other objects worn upon the person (thirteen classes)
Group V — industrial products, raw and manufactured, of mining forestry, etc. (seven classes)
Group VI — apparatus and processes used in the common arts (twenty classes)
Group VII — food, fresh or preserved, in various states of preparation (seven classes)
Group VIII — livestock and specimens of agricultural buildings (nine classes)
Group IX — live produce and specimens of horticultural works (six classes)
Group X — articles whose special purpose was meant to improve the physical and moral conditions of the people (seven classes)
In general, the classification scheme worked well. Thoughtful people might pause, though, at seeing grouped together, in the Industrial Products section, India-rubber baths and corkscrews, fishing tackle and pills. Guns were classified as types of clothing, and housed in Group IV. Perfumers were surprised to find themselves in the section devotes to "Furniture and Other Objects for Use in Dwellings". The most striking feature of the classification system was Group X. Products in this category were arranged not by national origin or nature of material, but by the intentions of their creators. Emperor Charles himself entered a design for a workers' housing project in the competition, and was (of course) awarded a grand prize.
The heavy machinery section constituted the main arena of the 1867 exposition universelle
. It was here that the United States made its first truly impressive showing as a force to be contended with in future industrial development. Among the Americans' proudest achievements was the telegraphy exhibit, under the supervision of Samuel F.B. Morse, and Chicago's "Lake Water Tunnel" display. The most impressive French display was the Suez Maritime Canal exhibit. A large working-model showed the details of this monumental engineering feat. Fairgoers stood in line to try out a new invention: the elevator.
The exhibit that most forcibly captured popular attention was the one mounted by the Krupp ironworks of Prussia. At the Krupp display in the outer gallery visitors could see a single 80,000-pound cast-steel ingot, whose fracture at the exposed end showed a flawlessly uniform grain. But most awe-inspiring feature of the Krupp exhibit was the 50-ton steel cannon, capable of firing 1,000 pound shells. Notices in front of the cannon proclaimed that the titanic guns were intended primarily for coastal defense, since their shells could pierce and destroy iron-plated ships.
True to himself, Victor Hugo made a rather moronic comment about this item: “These enormous shells, hurled from the gigantic Krupp cannons, will be no more effective in stopping Progress than soap bubbles blown from the mouth of a little child.”
Well, they were
the progress. Just not as the aging romantic understood it.
In the very center of the exhibition was a pavilion that featured an assemblage of money, weights and measures from various countries around the world. While the general public was amusing itself with the items displayed there, the serious scientists had been discussing the subjects of standardization of the weights and measures. Partly as a result of this exhibit, an International Bureau of Weights and Measures was constituted in Paris in 1875.
The exposition was formally opened on 1 April and closed on 31 October 1867, and was visited by 9,238,967 persons (beating the British record) including exhibitors and employees. This exposition was the greatest up to its time of all international expositions, both with respect to its extent and to the scope of its plan. Financially, it was not a big success itself but the revenues of the restaurants, cabarets, cafes, etc. in Paris beat all the records.
As far as the important
things are involved, there was a premiere of La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein
with Hortense Catherine Schneider playing the Duchess and being so popular that when her carriage was stopped at the entry to the exhibition (only the royalty was permitted to drive into the complex), she shouted: “I’m the Grand Duchess of Gerolstein” … and was permitted to proceed.
What the visitors saw was a Paris resplendent with new boulevards and fountains, cafés and parks. Baron Haussmann had given the city a new raiment, and Victor Hugo had envisioned a new role for the Queen City in the emerging world-nation. Paris was prosperous, the Emperor was victorious, France was the leader of the new world. From the Suez to Indochina, the new French empire seemed to reduce even the Sun King's light to a pale dawn compared to the brilliant promise of the Empire. As they watched Nadar snap photographs from his aerie in the heavens, it must have seemed, to oldtimers especially, that a Golden Age had truly come to pass. Paris had never seemed lovelier.
Ev'ryone who should be here is here?
Well, not quite. Franz Joseph was there and so were the Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz
, and the Khedive of Egypt Isma'il
. Bismarck was there and so were the brothers
of the King (so far) Wilhelm I of Prussia and the Emperor of Russia Alexander III. But neither WI nor AIII came personally. Victor Emmanuel also did not come. Emperor Charles still could play a host of the royalties and to be a central figure in their gatherings (and on the paintings) but the level of these events was not as high as anticipated.
Alexander, sending Grand Duke Vladimir to Paris, commented that he may finally make himself useful by bringing back the menus of the French restaurants (Vladimir was very fond of a fine cuisine and collecting the menus was one of his least expensive hobbies). Himself, he pleaded to be too busy with the domestic affairs but in a reality there was more serious reason: AIII, WI and FJI, after the war was over and the friendship was restored, signed an extradition treaty by which each of them promised to deliver upon request from another signatory the individuals implicated in the state crimes (plotting to overthrow the government, political assassinations or attempts of such, etc.). AIII proposed the idea and after assassination of AII it looked quite reasonable and neither WI nor FJI had any objections to signing it with a provision defining the reasonable rules for extradition to happen. But Emperor Charles excused himself claiming that such a treaty may generate a serious negative reaction from the French public opinion, especially from the Left, and that it may be in contradiction with the French laws. The excuse had been quite valid and AIII accepted it but it did not mean that he liked it. Of course, this was not enough for breaking the relations or anything serious but unpleasant feeling was there to stay. 
 Essay dedicated to the Exposition universelle
of 1867. Being born in 1802 he was not old enough by 1867 to easily excuse idiocy by the age-related senility. Well, he always had strange ideas like the children being responsible for the sins of their ancestors.
 Obviously, being a scientist, he saw future much better than an overly excited literater of the romantic persuasion. Speaking of which, his another alleged great contribution to the humankind was a discovery that 80 proof is the optimal strength of vodka (and other strong liquors) in the terms of the consumer’s ROI, which probably qualifies him as one of the Great Benefactors of the Humanity (like inventors of the toilet paper, ball pen and other equally important things). Judging by the wiki, he also discovered the Periodic System (whatever this is supposed to mean) but how many people really
care about it?
 Later, this obviously imperfect first implementation of a great idea passed through the numerous improvements to allow an easy voters’ fraud. Not sure if the author was unaware of a true potential of his invention or if it was just underdeveloped technology that did not allow him to implement the correct design. Pretty much as was the case with Fulton and the paddle steamers instead of getting directly to the screw.
 As far as my personal almost 5 decades of the experience in the computers goes, prior to the era of the modern displays showing cool and absolutely irrelevant pictures, the only was to get the general public (and high ranking officials) excited by a sight of a computer was to have as many blinking color lights as possible. This was true in the former Worker’s Paradise (on presentations to the high bosses the front panels of the exhibited minicomputers had to be taken off to make visible otherwise hidden key panels and indicators) and on this side of the Atlantic. Once, I was visiting a supercomputer producing company in Cambridge, MA and asked a question why this huge parallelepiped has countless blinking red lights: there were too many of them to serve any practical purpose. The answer was that the main customers were military and they love
the blinking lights.
 It was declared by the Commission that it was scored for voices, not just for orchestra, it was against the rules of the Commission, that it had not arrived in time, and that there would not be enough time to rehearse. In his answer published in The Times
Verdi wrote: “"[The commissioners] let it be known that twenty-five days (enough to learn a new opera) were not enough to learn this short cantata; and they refused it."
The public opinion sided with Verdi and the first performance of the cantata took place outside the Exhibition at Her Majesty's Theatre
on 24 May 1862, after a performance of The Barber of Seville
. It had a great success. According to The Daily Telegraph: “Not that the manifestations of good feelings were confined to applause alone, for bouquets and wreaths were showered on the favourite maestro, and favourite vocalists were even roused from their ordinary listlessness to do demonstrative honour to their illustrious countryman. The applause still continuing, the whole Cantata was then repeated. At the conclusion of the second performance Signor Verdi was then led forward by Signor Giuglini, and even after the curtain fell, he was compelled again to bow his acknowledgments.”
 Especially “Breakfast on the grass” but probably Courbet did not limit himself to the landscapes either. Is there a need to get into the details of the attitudes prevailing in the Victorian Britain? Well, the males could be actually interested but they would not let it be known.
 As in old joke: “After the guests left we missed few silver spoons. Later we found these spoons but the unpleasant feelings remained.”