Posted on: 6 January 2013

Digital Rare Book:
Dickinsons' comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
By Joseph Nash and others
Published by Dickinson Brothers, London - 1852

If you took an omnibus along London's Knightsbridge in the summer of 1851, you would see an astonishing sight. Glittering among the trees was a palace made of glass, like something out of the Arabian Nights. It was as tall as the trees, indeed taller, because the building arched over two of them already growing there, as if, like giant plants in a glasshouse, they had been transplanted with no disturbance to their roots. A shower of rain washed the dust from the glass, and made it glitter all the more. Nothing like this had been seen in London, ever.

This was the ‘Crystal Palace’, home to the Great Exhibition, an idea dreamt up by Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, to display the wonders of industry and manufacturing from around the modern world. Britain was at peace.The Chartists had meekly delivered their Petition to the House of Commons in three cabs, and gone home. Albert could write to his cousin King William of Prussia, that ‘we have no fear here either of an uprising or an assassination’. England was experiencing a manufacturing boom. This was the time to show off, on the international stage.

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