1844 Paris FR – Exposition Nationale (10th)

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1844, Paris

Name:Exposition Nationale (10th)
Dates:1 May – 30 Jun 1844
Days:Sixty days
Venue:Champs-Élysées, temporary structure
Theme:To encourage improvements in progressive agriculture and technology
Visitors:No data
Legacy:Reports of the event rather subtly moved the emphasis from products to the mechanical means of their production, perhaps refelecting a change in national agenda, because they had fallen behind Britain in terms of industrialisation.

King Louise Philippe formally opened the event, he visited the Exposition every Monday and
issued the awards at a Tuilieres ceremony [he would be forced into exile four years later]. Berlioz was commissioned to write and to perform his Hymne à la France, (see YouTube) for the opening ceremony.

This tenth Paris exposition was launched in a more competitive environment, there had been
shows in many major European cities (Brussels, Dublin, Hamburg, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Manchester, Munich, St Petersburg, Stockholm, Turin, Vienna, Warsaw). But perhaps it was the 1844 Berlin event that represented the main threat as they mounted it on a scale that rivaled the Parisian events. The central jury of the 1844 Paris Exposition watched these rival or imitative expositions in other countries. The Catalogue Officiel suggested the government needed to send agents to see and report back on the proposed Berlin and Viennese expositions.

Externals of the 1844 temporary structure

The Exposition was held at the Grand Carré des Fêtes ou des Jeux on the Champs-Élysées, held in a temporary structure that provided forty galleries inside the grand hall.

Interior view – Hall of Machines

There were eight categories – Chemical Arts, Diverse Arts, Fabrics, Fine Arts, Machinery, Metals , Pottery, Precision Instruments. These were arranged within forty galleries, along 8 kms (5 miles) of aisles. One popular exhibit was a selection of Daguerrotype plates.

The judging was held across a week, following the closure of the exposition. It was complicated by the decision not to duplicate awards to any exhibitor who had won a medal at a previous exposition, thoughexhibitors could win new medals for the same product if the jury considered that there had been a “superior” improvement in the article.

1844 Bronze medal

Eventually they presented 3,253 awards to the 3,960 exhibitors (at 82% this was virtually a prize for exhibiting). They were awarded across five categories (gold, silver and bronze medals, honourable mentions and favourable citations).

Manufacturers from the Paris environs predominated but there were also products from Bordeaux, Toulouse and the Rhine region, however high tariffs meant there were no foreign products on show.

Notably Adolphe Sax presented a copy of his Saxhorn and Charles Xavier Thomas of Colmar presented his Arithmomètre (or Arithmometer) a significant and early mechanical calculator. It was said that British visitors were embarrassed by the cosmetics and wigs displayed at Paris. Daguerre was still being praised at this exposition.

A daguerrotype image
of Louis Daguerre

The jury for this exposition confronted a new issue when they concluded that only those
who directly manufactured items could exhibit. This was something of an affront to French commerce that sold the products of others. Their motivation was to not squeeze out small inventors, while admitting selling agents.

The event director, M. Cunin-Gridaine, Minister of Agriculture and Commerce and a long-time exhibitor at the industrial expositions, decided that no eccentric or useless items would be displayed. This sounds reasonable until you learn that a device for measuring planetary orbits was rejected as it had no commercial application or social utility. To enable this decisions exhibitors had to complete a detailed and burdensome form – name, address, sector, their foundation date, number of workers, quantity of raw materials used, annual value of the business analysed by home and foreign sales… The exposition did include entertainments.

The minister was assemblig this data to attempt a composite picture of French industry and commerce.

Forward to 1844, Stockholm SE – Industrial exhibition
Forward to next Paris entry – 1849
Back to 1844, Manchester UK – Manchester Mechanics’ Institute
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