The Zollverein has five entrances on the south side of the main avenue, and six on the north side. The southern part is particularly devoted to fabrics, while the northern division contains art objects, hardware and machinery.
We will review the products of each of the main states of the Zollverein separately, starting with Saxony.
At the entrance to the aisle bearing the name of Saxony are exhibited a few common necessities; miniature paintings on medallions, representing views of Saxony; a model of a Saxon railway viaduct and a ridiculous carpet whose embroidery would perhaps please the Chinese, but is unworthy of the Crystal Palace.
Fortunately for the industrial reputation of Saxony, one notices, beside these common products, very beautiful porcelains of the royal manufacture of Meissen. They are decorated with golden nets in relief, forming a design and intertwined with great elegance.
To these beautiful services must be added two large porcelain urns, similar in form to the Sèvres style, although less pure and less severe. The most perfect taste is combined with great originality in a magnificent mirror frame, also in porcelain, which has won the approval of all connoisseurs.
In the German Fine Arts Exhibition, Saxony exhibited some charming paintings on porcelain; they are miniature copies of various paintings by great masters. There are also
paintings on enamel and Saxon porcelain, representing Virgins and Infants Jesus. The large vases of the Royal Manufacture of Meissen, which appear in this salon, are of remarkable beauty and far surpass what Berlin has sent in this kind.
Professor Ritschel, of Dresden, has exhibited a beautiful Christ in Carrara marble. In the same corner as this statue are placed three oil paintings on tin and iron plates, whose colouring is admired." The public's attention is especially drawn to a beautiful woman's head, whose sadness has something voluptuous about it and whose expression is most striking; a skull and crossbones placed in a corner of the painting could be the cause of the melancholy of this graceful creature, a sort of half-repentant Magdalene.
Saxony has exhibited only one piece of silverware: it is a magnificent silver vase, decorated with flowers of the same metal, whose extreme finesse and lightness are admired. The crowd also crowds around a delicious Saxon chessboard placed under glass.
From the excursion we have just made into the realm of Germanic fine arts, let us return to the Saxon North Alley, where we encounter, as soon as we take our first steps, remarkable Plauen embroideries, executed on various small objects for ladies' use.
After Plauen comes the Glauchau factory, renowned for its worsted and silk blends, for its shorn wool fabrics, and for its checkered fabrics. Frankenberg has sent very remarkable silk damasks and brocatelles for tapestry.
Clomnitz, the largest industrial centre in Saxony, stands out for its woollen satins, damasks, wool-silk and silk-cotton blends. Its printed pure cotton fabrics are widely criticised and are completely overshadowed by our own.
Leisnig shines with its fine green sheets, Meerane with its woolen tartans and muslins.
The light woollen fabrics from Rochlitz are of great variety and perfect workmanship.
Plauen's products are still to be found; they are cotton curtain fabrics and gauze. Annaberg competes with Plauen in these genres, which are close to those of Saint-Quentin, without, however, equalling their perfection by much.
These two Saxon manufacturing towns have sown their products in all parts of the Crystal Palace. In the upper gallery on the south side are magnificent embroideries from Plauen and no less remarkable lace from Annaberg.
Those of Dresden and Schneeberg are also of great beauty. The same cannot be said of the lace and embroidery from Eibenstock.
Reichenbach exhibited common printed damasks and shawls, as well as light woollen fabrics. The trouser fabrics from Crimmitzchau are impeccable, as are his summer satins.
Several Saxon cities produce remarkable cloth. We shall mention the fine cloths of Bischofsverda, Crossenhain, Oderan and Rosswein; the buckskins of Leipzig; the red cloths of Kirchberg and the thick black cloths of Lengenfeld.
Saxony does not excel in cotton prints, but in the south gallery it has exhibited remarkable batists and jaconas.
Its linen fabrics are always distinguished by their finesse. In one of the northern aisles of the Zollverein, one can admire the magnificent damask fabrics of Littau, as well as the Dresden tablecloths, with greyish ecru backgrounds and white designs, in the style of Irish damask.
Leipzig sent a huge display of waxed cloths, far inferior to those of Belgium and ours.
At the hosiery exhibition, the combined manufacturers of Chemnitz and Lichenstein are to be noted, as well as the large assortment of fringes made of cotton and silk yarns, from Messrs. Bach and Sons, of Annaberg.
We should also mention the beautiful samples of cobalt blue, the displays of iron and ordinary pottery, the remarkable models of typography, the beautiful chest of drawers with inlays, the electro-magnetic telegraph with needles, the watches and the excellent piano, which were exhibited by Saxony.
But what seems to us to do the most honour to the industry of this country is the inexhaustible variety of its woollen fabrics, with or without mixture, which are recommended as much by their low prices as by their quality.
As for Saxon porcelain, its reputation has long been established and is maintained with distinction at the Crystal Palace.
Württemberg seems to have been more concerned with animals than with people in its exhibition, as cages, birds and stuffed quadrupeds dominate. Mr. Plouquet, the preparator of the Royal Museum of Stuttgart, has, moreover, shown great spirit and taste in the poses he has given to his animals. His owls grappling with martens and defending their young are magnificent in their fury and paternal tenderness; his weasels embracing roosters, his fox holding a rosary and reading a breviary, a hare exercising, are charming caricatures full of verve and life. They also attract the English public in droves, who are known to have a weakness for certain animals, and who never tire of admiring a stag at bay and a wild boar disembowelling the dogs that attack it, the main groups in this little museum of natural history.
Württemberg also exhibited children's toys, cuckoo clocks and a beautiful distillation apparatus.
In the art room, it has only one statue, a Magdalene, by Mr. Wagner, of Stuttgart. But this statue is of great merit.
In one of the upper galleries are some musical instruments from Württemberg.
The southern aisle of this country is mainly devoted to fabrics. The curtain muslins and embroidered tulles of Ravenbergs are far from being equal to those of Saxony, which are already far inferior to those of Switzerland and St. Quentin; the linen cloths of Stuttgart are of mediocre quality. Nothing is more common and less neat than the cotton prints of Württemberg. His cloths are not brilliant either, as the few samples he has sent are not very good. His leathers and shoes go unnoticed. The same is true of the hemp and cotton yarns, papers and chemicals he has exhibited. On the other hand, one stops in front of a few pieces of bitumen mosaic and a number of small objects made of wood, tortoiseshell, bone and ivory. Württemberg, like all countries where large-scale industries are stagnant, excels in these small, insignificant works of patience.
Its exhibition, it will be seen, pales in comparison with that of Saxony, and does not place its manufacturers on a very high level of the Zollverein scale of production.
The Bavarian exhibition is more artistic than industrial.
The colossal lion in bronze, King George of Bohemia and Queen Libussa, also in bronze, are the work of a Munich artist, Mr. Miller, and are displayed with honour in the main avenue.
It was Bavaria that endowed the German art fair with its most beautiful products.
Mr. Leeb, of Munich, exhibited a delightful marble statue of a young woman holding three little angels or three loves in a nest.
The execution is as elegant and graceful as the original conception.
Dr. Fuchs, of Munich, has attached his name to a picture remarkable in two respects.
This painting represents a beautiful head of an old man with a lot of expression. But what is most curious about this painting is that it has been fixed by means of a liquid glass infusion on a mortar coating. This stereochromic process is the work of Dr. Fuchs.
The stained glass windows by Stephan Kellner from Nuremberg show great talent, as do the porcelain paintings by an artist from Nymphenburg.
There are some beautiful Bavarian statues, including the Virgin Mary in a tasteful gothic frame.
The Gothic plaster vase, by Mr. Halbig, of Munich, on which the attributes of the Holy Roman Empire are depicted, is an outstanding work.
Bavaria sent two charming desks, one in Renaissance style, decorated with elegant inlays and intended for a lady; the other, in Gothic form, in dark wood on which small gilded figures stand out wonderfully.
There are also two small work tables, one of which is extremely elegant in the Rococo style. These Bavarian pieces of furniture are perhaps the only ones in the Zollverein that can compete with the products of French cabinet-making. Bavaria, and particularly Munich, is the country with the most beautiful works of art in the German-speaking world.
The few precision instruments exhibited by Bavaria in one of the upper galleries deserve special mention. To say that Mr. Erstel, of Munich, exhibited a telescope and various other astronomical instruments, is to say that these instruments are excellent, for this learned engineer has long since acquired, by his products and by his work, a well-deserved reputation.
Messrs. Mez and Sons, also of Munich, sent a refractor and a microscope which are highly praised.
Nuremberg has supplied some curious anatomical models made of papier-mâché, a substance which has been successfully bent for all purposes, and which plays an important part in the Crystal Palace.
The musical instruments of Bavaria are few in number and deserve little attention.
In an aisle on the ground floor devoted to Prussia, there is a small area reserved for some Bavarian fabrics. There are silks and woollen fabrics from Deux-Pints; woollen and cotton shawls from Hof; Crumback linen. But there is nothing remarkable about these products.
There are also leathers, gold and silver papers, bookbindings, dolls and other children's toys exhibited by Bavaria; all these objects deserve little attention. The real importance of the Bavarian exhibition lies in the art objects, and not elsewhere.
Prussia, Hesse, Frankfurt am Main, etc.
Prussia has the place of honour in the Zollverein Exhibition.
We shall begin our examination of its products in the southern part of the nave.
Elberfeld, which is at once the Lyon and the Mulhouse of this country, shines by the variety as well as by the beautiful manufacture of its fabrics. Here, it is its gauze dresses, its satins, its tartans that are admired; there, its silk and cotton fabrics for tapestries, its shawls, its velvets, its cashmere fabrics for waistcoats, its damasks are displayed. Further on, you come across red woolen lils in bundles, horsehair fabrics, wool and cotton mixtures, again from Elberfeld. Also, this town has a small colony in one of the upper galleries on the south side: this is its exhibition of painted cotton fabrics.
But its indiennes, muslins, and jaconats are far inferior to ours, and the progress which Prussia has made in the wool industry is far from being equalled by it in the cotton industry.
The Indiennes of Berlin and Eilenbury do not shine any more than those of EIberfeld, in the Crystal Palace.
Crefeld's satins, Naples wholesale, silk pulleys and velvets deserve the highest praise. Viersen has also exhibited some very remarkable plain and shaped silk velvets. But it is to those of Berlin that the palm belongs, for the variety, the smoothness, the beauty of the colours. His plush and shawls also deserve an honourable mention.
Gladback exhibited wool and silk shawls, and fabrics for trousers; Barmen, common shawls; Gera, merino, thibets, woollen muslins; Schmiedeland, cashmere shawls and velvet.
Prussian drapery is the object of the most just praise. It would be difficult to surpass in finesse the cloths of Werden, Eupen, Hettwig, Frankfurt-am-Oder, Finstervalda, Grûnberg, Goldberg, and especially those of Aachen, the formidable rivals of the cloths of Sedan and Verriers. Aachen has also sent some very fine fabrics for trousers.
Rhenish Prussia is worthily represented at the London Exhibition. The cloths of Ingenbruch are still admired. Those of Monjoie are recommended by their strength.
Cologne supplied printed silk and calico handkerchiefs; Dusseldorff, checked woollen fabrics and shawls. As for his cotton prints, they are below mediocre.
But let's get back to the sheets. Those of Neudamm are distinguished by their low prices, those of Schwednitz and Liegnitz (Silesia) by their strength. Burtscheal exhibited cross-sheets and fine cloths; Brandenburg, very good quality llamas; Eupen, fine and surlins fabrics worthy of the highest praise. If France has sent some sheets as beautiful as those of Prussia, we are far behind that country, at least in the Crystal Palace, in terms of variety. But the real triumph of Prussia lies outside the Exhibition.
We are referring to its prizes, the indications of which have unfortunately been forbidden.
Among the Prussian cities which occupy an honourable place in the wool industry, we must still mention Erfurt for its damasks, its necessaries; Zeulenverda, for its mixed fabrics; Ronneburg, for its thibets; Jena, for its woven fabrics, and Greiz, for its woollen muslins.
The Prussian linen cloths, exhibited in one of the upper galleries, are of a very remarkable manufacture. Bielfeld is particularly noted for its damask fabrics and beautiful tablecloths. Silesia exhibited thick, but good quality cloths. In short, the German linen industry is very well represented, and has little to envy of other countries.
Now that we have examined Prussia's textile industries, let us take a look at her other products.
Her leathers form about two-thirds of those exhibited by the Zollverein, and are unquestionably the best worked. Mainz has a fine trophy of leather goods and patent leathers. In the room containing them, one also notices cases, bindings and Prussian saddlery. But these products, like the exported and varnished leathers, cannot be compared with those of France.
The same inferiority applies to Prussian stationery and metal button making.
Prussian raw materials and chemicals form one of the most interesting sections of the exhibition.
There were beautiful crystallizations of potassium prussiate from Berlin; large blocks of alum from Deuben; sugar loaves from Magdeburg; stearic products from Berlin; samples of coal from Ruhrort; grey silks, starches and a quantity of curious minerals.
After admiring the Prussian woollen fabrics, one is delighted to be able to examine the fleeces that were used to make them. At the end of the raw materials aisle, there is a very remarkable collection of wools. The wool of the royal remounting establishment in Treptow, that of Count Schewerin and Baron Ziegler, is displayed here alongside the wool of Moeblin, Lizcowo and Frankenfeld, all of superior quality.
We have now completed the review of Prussia's southern aisles. Let us move on to the northern part of its exhibition. At the entrance to this compartment are the beautiful crystals of Count Shafgott's factory in Silesia. Germany shows us her greatest industries in the hands of some of the high nobility. We then notice silver and gilded vases by galvano-plating; some busts; statuettes; a beautiful crystal fountain; large amber rosaries; some pretty works of goldsmithery; porcelains; wind instruments and a steel cannon, melted down at Essen, by a Mr. Kupp, a piece of artillery which seems to have been made rather to adorn some museum, than to serve against the enemy.
The machine room of the Zollverein is furnished with a quantity of carpentry and locksmith's instruments, from EIberfeld, Bemscheid and Aachen. Prussia alone, among the states of the Zollverein, has a certain importance in mechanics, in the Crystal Palace. Cologne has exhibited some machines for the manufacture of coins, which seem to have real merit. Berlin sent a shawl shearing machine and a vacuum apparatus for cooking sugar, which is completely overshadowed by that of Cail. We note cotton, wool and silk combing cards from Dusseldorff and a reeling machine from Crefeld. As for the Jacquard loom models and the farming instruments, they offer nothing new. The chemistry and physics apparatus are perfectly imagined. But the whole exhibition pales next to the Belgian and French machines, which are themselves insignificant compared to the numerous English devices on display.
The iron cabinet, made in Magdeburg, and the Prussian iron stoves, with their high, light and elegant forms, deserve a mention.
The swords of Sollingen, the Toledo of Prussia, attract the attention of connoisseurs, as does its fine cutlery, which is of excellent quality.
Saarlouis and Meitlach, exhibited fine stoneware pottery, with ornaments and metallic paints.
This type of pottery is highly original.
There are a number of Prussian jasper and carnelian vases, as well as a collection of octagonal topazes.
The design and painting glasses, the porcelain pipes and two large earthenware jugs with mouldings, exhibited by Prussia, are distinguished by perfect taste and fine workmanship, as are a number of statuettes and small bronze vases which are to be found in the same aisle, in the one which bounds the exhibition of the Zollverein, at the extreme north.
In the upper galleries we notice, first of all, the precision instruments from Prussia. The learned Professor OErtling, from Berlin, exhibited various beautiful apparatuses and, among others, balances of extreme precision, intended for the most delicate chemical analyses. Berlin also sent clocks, a dismantled astronomical chronometer, optical, geometrical and surgical instruments, which are far inferior to ours, despite their merit. Dusseldorff supplied scales for weighing silks.
The specimens of typography from Berlin are quite remarkable; his wallpapers, on the other hand, are open to criticism.
An artist from Magdeburg has exhibited the model of the cathedral of that city, made of lime wood. One of his colleagues, from Stettin, has invented a very original art, that of representing buildings with pieces of cork wood of extreme fineness, fitted together in such a way as to form a drawing. The small plans of old castles executed by this ingenious process are charming pictures destined to make a fortune.
One notices still some Prussian furniture of rather elegant gothic forms.
These last products lead us to speak of the objects of art exhibited by Prussia in the great avenue and in the German salon.
We will say nothing of the famous Amazon, the design of which is due to M. Kiss and the execution to the famous founder Geiss, of Berlin; the reputation of this statue is already European, and the sum for which the United States bought it sufficiently praises it.
It was Mr. Geiss, too, who executed the two statues of women in zinc, the two deer in bronze, and the beautiful group of the child and the swan, executed after Schwanthaler's model.
Mr. Fiebel, from Berlin, sent a bronze dog. A beautiful marble basin from the same city is noteworthy.
The magnificent vase in oxidised silver, by Mr. Wagner, does the greatest honour to Prussia. The allegorical figures which decorate it reveal the eminent artist.
In the Salon des Beaux-Arts, the flower paintings on porcelain sent by Berlin share the public's attention with the Saxon porcelains. The large vases of the Royal Manufacture have more richness and brilliance, but less taste and elegance than the small pieces.
The stone-cardboard statues, by M. Gropius, imitate gilt bronze well enough; but there is more industry than art in these products.
The Innocence, holding a lamb in her arms, does credit to M. Wolff, of Berlin.
Mr. Drake's Marble Child is a small masterpiece.
Mr. Eichler's plastics are very remarkable.
Let us also mention a small model of the obelisk of Louqsor, gilded, by means of electro-galvanism, by a Prussian artist, and a charming lady's desk in ebony, made in Dusseldorff.
If Prussia has taken a high rank among the manufacturing nations at the Crystal Palace, it is clear that she has not neglected artistic glory either.
She will therefore emerge with honour from this great contest of nations, where her textile industries, especially her linen cloths and fabrics, have achieved such legitimate success, and where her works of art have cast so much lustre on the names of her sculptors.
It remains for us to mention a few isolated products of various small states of Germany, which have exhibited too little for us to devote a special article to each.
Grand-Ducal Hesse sent some curious ores: Cobalt blue, cigars, playing cards, a beautiful ivory vase on which Mr. Heyl, from Darmsladt, represented an antique fight, The few Hessian jewels which appear in the art show, have nothing remarkable. The linen threads, exhibited by the jubilant, are of good quality.
Frankfurt-on-the-Mein has sent earthenware stoves, which combine elegance with lightness; its earthenware pottery also has merit.
I do not know which artist from the Zollverein has depicted the castle of Rosenau, the birthplace of Prince Albert, in a relief plan. He has depicted with as much verve as talent a country festival held near the castle, and in which we see the brave villagers happily indulging their taste for dancing, wine and good food.
Mr. Geissmer and company, from Wiesbaden, exhibited beautiful sculptures on ivory.
Among the musical instruments from Germany, we note an organ from Schwartzburg-Rudolphstadt, which, in spite of its small volume, has a surprisingly powerful sound.
Let us also mention a very beautiful gothic case from Saxony-Coburg.
Of the North German cities or states outside the Zollverein, the only ones whose Exhibition is of any importance are Hanover and Hamburg.
A hall and an aisle are devoted to their products. There are shoes, leathers, ink, some framed embroideries, pedestal tables, pianos and elegant inlaid sideboards made in Hamburg.
The muslin-wool shawls exhibited by this city are of the most mediocre quality, as are his printed wool tablecloths and silk scarves. The same can be said of his carriage, his silver vases, his clock and his candelabra.
But we must do justice to a beautiful crystal vase, also of Hamburg origin.
This room and this aisle are the least interesting of the whole division of Germany, a small triumph, no doubt, for the Zollverein to which they do not belong.
© Palais de Cristal – Journal Illustré de L’Exposition de 1851