Exposition Universelle • Paris 1878

L’Album-Guide contient: La vue des Principaux Monuments de Paris, le Plan de l’Exposition, le Plan de Paris, le Plan detaille des differents Theatres, les Services Maritimes, l’Organisation des Services publics, Postes, Telegraphes, Moyens de Transport, Omnibus, Voitures publiques, Tramways, Chemins de fer de banlieue, Promenades dans les environs de Paris; et un mot, tout ce qui est de nature a interesser le Voyageur et l’Etranger venant a Paris. Nota. – Une Table des Matieres se trouve a la fin de cet Album.
Administration: 36 , Boulevard Haussmann (Chaussee-d’Antin). D. Lubin, Editeur et Concessionnaire Exclusif. [Amiens, Imp. T. Jeunet]. 1878. (Ex) Item 4943082 oversize

The International Exposition or World’s Fair served for over 150 years as a primary arena for the display of national prestige. Manufactured product and the resources that produced it – natural, inventive, managerial – provided the common means by which nation could be measured against nation. Progress was regarded as visible, tangible and local. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to objects. Achieving individuals were inducted into Legions of Honor. In today’s world focused on speed, process, and individual celebrity, certainly in terms of public visibility, the Olympics have superseded the International Exposition as an arena for estimation by others.

For over one hundred years, the Library has been building its collection of materials relating to international expositions. Frederic Vinton, librarian from 1873 to his death in 1890, recognized the importance of these materials by listing them in his 894 page Subject Catalogue of the Library of the College of New Jersey (Princeton, 1884), under the headings: London international exhibition, 1851; Paris expositions, 1844, 1867, 1878 ; Philadelphia exposition, 1876; Vienna exposition, 1873. Since then, such materials have been gathered by such units as the Art Library, the Geology Library, the Architecture Library, Graphic Arts, the Theatre Collection, Numismatics, General Rare Books, as well as in the general circulating collection.

This latest addition, an Album Guide is the rare first edition of this charming large format guide for English and American visitors to the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878. It is not listed in WorldCat.

The following description of the contents is provided by Ed Smith of Pickering & Chatto (London) — “The work, complete with a large folding coloured Paris street map (and on the verso a map of the regional railways) provides all the information necessary for the visitor in negociating the language barrier on their way to, and at, the exhibition. After a brief introduction ‘to the elements of the language’, the first section provides useful phrases on the journey to France (‘the Landing and Custom House’, ‘At the Railway Station’ etc). This is then followed with further phrases useful at the hotel, when eating and drinking, at the Tobacconist or Hairdresser, and even when needing to take a bath. Part II gives details of exchanges and weights and measures, Paris Omnibuses (apparently much more comfortable than in London), Theatres, Music Halls, Promenades and Gardens, and a list of the entertainments to be given at the exhibition. The final section contains the professional and commercial list, bankers, doctors, milliners, perfumers, chemists and dentists, to name but a few. The work concludes with an advertisements section, both for Paris and London businesses. … This exposition was on a far larger scale than any previously held anywhere in the world. It covered over 66 acres (267,000 m²); the main building in the Champ de Mars occupying 54 acres (219,000 m²).

The illustrations and illustrated advertisements are of particular interest, as they are documenting the ephemeral nature of exhibitions, certain business, commercial design and places of entertainment, such as the 22 theatres colour-illustrated seating plans, together with price lists. On p. 7 is a half-page size woodengraved bird’s eye view of the exhibition ground.

Each double-page of this album has a large view of thestreet, landmark or square where the businesses advertised for are located. The highlights among the illustrated advertisements are: a full-page woodengraved composition of views of the workshops and the large shop of the manufacturer of sweets and chocolate Au Fidèle Berger (p. 2), a full-page tinted lithograph of the Grands Magasins de la Paix (p. 40), and a half-page advert for a shoe manufacturer printed in black, silver, gold and bronze (p. 46), a full-page advertisement for the ‘magnificent Summer Garden’, the Alcazar d’ Été near the Champs Élysées. There is advertising for various shipping companies, as well as a section of illustrated advertisements for hotels in Paris and French holiday resorts. Numbered page 99-100 is a large folding handcoloured map, Le nouveau guide de l’étranger dans les 20 arrondissements de Paris, (Paris : J. Gaultier, 1878), 50 x 67 cm.

Provenance: From the fashion shop run buy the Madames Biays in the Rue d’Échelles, whose advert is on p. 53, with their name stamped in gilt on front cover.”