27/11/2022

1883/4, Boston US – American Exhibition of the Products and Manufacturers of Foreign Nations

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1883 Boston

Name:American Exhibition of the Products and Manufacturers of Foreign Nations
Dates:3 Sep 1883 – 12 Jan 1884
Days:
Venue:Mechanis Hall – 8,547 sq m (92,000 sq ft)
Theme:To boost overseas trade – all exhibits were from overseas – no local exhibits
Exhibitors:700 exhibits from 30 countries
Awards:
Visitors:300,000 – 50c admission
Legacy:Losses between $25,000 – $50,000

Charles Benjamin Norton, a Civil War brigadier, had been Secretary to the Bureau of Revenue at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition and for this event became the Secretary of the Organising Committee. The event was privately owned and managed by Boston’s business leaders. They had stepped in when it emerged that a Boston World Fair, planned for1885 was stepped back for financial concerns.

It was the centennial of the Revolutionary War.

Mechanics’ Hall – showing left-to-right the exhibition’s President, Secretary abd Treasurer
(Bradler, Norton and Lincoln)

The Foreign Exhibition Association was linked to the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association and were offered its permanent Mechanics’s Hall building (Huntingdon Avenue/West Newton Street), built back in 1882 to house the triennial Mechanics Fairs. (It was demolished in 1959 to make way for the Boston Prudential Center).

Exhibit space was offered free to manufacturers and dealers who would ship their exhibits to Boston, and Congress agreed that all such goods caould eneter the USA duty-free. A fairly unusual form of government financial support for the show.

Many exhibits were from British Empire countries. France Germany and Italy provided much of the fine art, France developing American interest in Impressionism. Japan built a tea room and had fourteen Japanese craftswomen showing their skills.

The Central Hall presented international concerts.

The 300,000 attendance was contempraneously considered as disappointing, with Norton suggesting only 5% of Boston’s population attended. The losses were balanced by an increase in overseas trade,

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