27/09/2022

1837, 1839, 1841, 1844, 1847, 1850, 1853, 1856… Boston US – Exhibition of the Massachussetts Charitable Mechanical Association

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1837, 1839, 1841, 1844, 1850, 1856 Boston

Name:Exhibition of the Massachussetts Charitable Mechanical Assoc’n
Dates:Biennial exhibitions – 18-30 Sep 1837; 23 Sep-4 Oct 1839; 20Sep-2Oct 1841;
then triennial – 26Sep 1844; 15 Sep 1847; Sep 1850; Sep 1853; 10-27 Sep 1856…
Days:Twelve, rising to seventeen
Venue:Quincy Hall and Faneuil Hall
Theme:
Exhibitors:At peak 15,000 exhibits
Awards:25 gold and 133 silver medals, plus 254 diplomas (1839); 19 gold and 116 silver medals, plus
300 diplomas (1841);
Visitors:70,000 (1839); 80,000 (1841)
Legacy:$5,000 was voted to organise the first event, some $12,507.77 admission revenue was taken.
The MCMA Board concluded that the ‘experiment has been, we trust, entirely satisfactory’, while looking forward to the event growing on future showings.
MCMA motto – Be just and fear not

The Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association (MCMA) was established in 1795 with the aim of promoting the ‘mechanic arts’ and ‘extending the practice of benevolence’. One of its founders was Paul Revere of ‘The British are coming…’ fame.

During the early 19th century the MCMA promoted efforts to expand educational opportunities for apprentices and other boys. One outcome was the establishment in 1821 of the first public high school in America, the English High School of Boston (originally the English Classical School). The school was modelled after a similar effort by the mechanics organisation of Edinburgh, Scotland. [Thus bizarrely muddling English and Scottish.]

Quincy Market was constructed in 1824-6 and is both a Boston and a National Historic Landmark.

Quincy Hall, Boston

MCMA later organised a series of events. Its remit was broader than its name implies, admitting bakers, blacksmiths, bookbinders, booksellers, bricklayers, cabinet-makers, coopers, cordwainers, curriers, engine-builders, farriers, furriers, goldsmiths, hairdressers, hatters, housewrights, masons, paint-sellers, painters, printers, riggers, ropemakers, saddlers, sailmakers, shipwrights, silk-dyers, tailors, watchmakers. and whitesmiths.

Its first exhibition was held from 18-30 Sep 1837. One report describes Faneuil Hall as covered with tables laden with fabrics ‘from the deep-dug mine, or the cultivated field’ and the walls ‘were covered with beautiful pictures in gorgeous frames’. While Quincy Hall housed the machinery and tools.

1839 Catalogue

The Second Exhibition, was held at Quincy Hall from 23 Sep–4 Oct 1839. MCMA awarded 25 gold and 133 silver medals, plus 254 diplomas. there were 70,000 visitors. The 1839 event had 15,000 exhibits and attracted ‘more than 70,000 persons’.

The third event was held from 20 Sep – 2 Oct 1841 (twelve days) awarded 19 gold and 116 silver medals, plus
300 diplomas, there were 80,000 visitors.

The fourth event was held from 26 Sep – ?. 1844.

1847 Advert
(Source: Library of Congress)

The 5th event was held from 15 Sep – ?, 1847

$5,000 was voted to organise the 1837 event and it took $12,507.77 in admission revenues. The Board of Managers concluded that the ‘experiment has been, we trust, entirely satisfactory’ and they looked forward to it growing further for future events.

Advertisement for 1856 event
(Source: Creative Commons)

MCMA Board of Governors in 1865
Display cases at the 1878 event
MCMA Award from 1878
Illustration of Geo W Simmons & Co exhibit – 1881 event

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