Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2005 Issue

Fairs and Expositions from Charles Wood Antiquarian Booksellers

R006

A rare souvenir from the 1887 St. Louis Exposition.


Item 37 is a strange, evidently humorous book about the London fair. It is written in a Lancashire dialect, and the title goes like this: O ful, tru, un pertikler okeawnt...we gooin too th' Greyt Eggshibishun, e Lundun... If you look carefully, you will notice this isn't some strange language, but an exaggerated English dialect, obviously meant to poke fun at the country folk. If you're having trouble understanding the lingo, it offers a "Dikshunayre fur thoose us ur noane so fur larn't." This 1851 farce must have been popular, as it is described as the "thurd edishun." The author was "O Felly from Rachde." $150.

The first American exposition patterned upon the London international exhibition was held in New York in 1853. The book, edited by D Silliman and C.R. Goodrich, is The world of science, art and industry illustrated from examples in the New-York Exhibition of 1853-54. A domed iron structure was built for the fair, and its plan, as well as those for other structures which were not selected, are provided. This report includes 500 wood engravings. Item 59. $450.

America's centennial was a year of great celebration. The official fair was held in Philadelphia in 1876. Between 1880 and 1884, the federal government printed the official report of this exposition, eleven volumes in all. Without having actually read them myself, I'm going to guess that this must be a very complete report. The Reports of the United States Centennial Commission are available as item 115. $1,500.

Here is an exhibition that was not so well known. In fact, Wood says he cannot find any other records pertaining to it. It was held in St. Louis in 1887, at the "St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall." As best I can tell, there was an association that ran this hall and held exhibitions there during the latter part of the 19th century. The hall was torn down to make way for the Central Library, which was completed in 1912. This obscure publication is called St. Louis Exposition souvenir, 1887 and historical review of the great expositions of the world. Along with describing the St. Louis expo, it covers many others, from the French industrial exhibition of 1798 to the New Orleans Cotton and Industrial Exhibition of 1884. Evidently, the promoters were trying to associate their exposition with the great ones, although it appears to have been much more of a local show with a focus on musical events. Item 157. $200.

The next major exposition came in Paris in 1889. This is the one for which the Eiffel Tower was built. Wood offers L'Exposition de Paris (1889) publice avec la collaboration d'ecrivan speciaux. This book contains many illustrations of the technology of constructing the fair buildings, the Eiffel Tower in particular. Originally published as 80 weekly parts, it is here printed in two volumes. Item 166. $1,150.

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