24 May 2011

Hot technology, in 1851

In 1851 the Great Exhibition, or more properly the "Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations" was held at the Crystal Place in London.

The exhibits were judged in categories Raw Materials, Machinery, Manufactures, and Fine Arts, with these sub-divided into 30 classes, from Class I, Mining, Quarrying, Metallurgical Operations, and Mineral Products, to Class XXX, Sculpture, models and plastic art.

The Report by the Juries includes an evaluation of the state of the art, many with extended essays about various technologies. On photography the jury write:
"That Photography will have a great tendency to depress mediocrity, we may safely predict; that, from the date of the general application of Photography to the illustration of scenes daily passing around us, will commence a new era in pictorial representation; that it will greatly enrich us with authentic records of works, that would otherwise pass away without a single detaining effort from the hand of the artist, owing to their being of too transient a nature to admit of the accuracy and detail necessary to give it value in future ages;—is attested by the various and excellent representations which we now possess ..."
A full copy of the Report by the Juries, which may be of interest if your ancestor was involved in one of the areas discussed, is at http://goo.gl/JKzru

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