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Prussia - Expo Paris 1867

Prussia at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1867

Let us take a look at this large lithographic stone sent from Bavaria as we continue our journey. Württemberg and the Grand Duchy of Baden also have a good deal of machinery worthy of attention, remarkable raw materials and agricultural products that would be worth examining, but Prussia is close by, and you know it, Prussia is, at the moment, the lion of the day, the great attraction. - The products it exhibits justify this curiosity, and prove a remarkable power of production.

The industries that are to take their place in the great gallery are worthily represented there. German cars and coachwork, locomotives and railway equipment, cables and electrical appliances, looms for weaving wool, cotton and silk, sewing machines by Schmidt and Comp, the ingenious air and gas machine of Otto of Cologne, giving small industry a home power by the combustion of hydrogen or carbonated hydrogen (lighting gas), the ignition of which takes place without the use of electricity; - the apparatus of Neun of Aachen, with which a child makes forty thousand pinheads a day, and at the feet of this portico, the Prussian arms and flags, which are represented in our engraving : On a space reserved between the two staircases, the steels of the famous factory of Frederic Krupp in Essen.

A colossal ingot of molten steel weighing forty thousand kilograms, which, after shining at the exhibition, will be transformed by a sledgehammer weighing fifty thousand kilograms into a shaft for a large transatlantic ship: - wagon wheels and locomotive drive wheels, springs, steel rails and tires, molten steel sheet, angle iron and - most surprisingly and eye-catchingly - steel cannon parts of all shapes and sizes. There are seven of them, from the small cast steel mountain piece weighing ninety-seven and a half kilograms, the six-gun, weighing four hundred and thirty kilograms, to the twelve thousand and fifty thousand kilogram guns, launching projectiles of one hundred and fifty and five hundred and fifty kilograms with a charge of twenty kilograms and fifty to fifty-five kilograms of powder and costing, per shot fired, eight hundred francs for the twelve-ton gun, and four thousand francs for the fifty-ton gun, which is, it will be agreed, a rather nice sum. It is true that the gun with its carriage costs a mere five hundred and eighty thousand two hundred and fifty francs. As for the other guns, their price varies from four thousand to fifty-five and one hundred and twenty thousand francs.

This sort of museum of the hopes of death, if one can express oneself thus, and the manufacture of these new monsters, fashionable today, and which play an important role in the register of the profiles and losses of a nation, because they contribute to raise or lower confidence or security, - deserve, and will be later, on our part, the object of a special study, when we review the numerous specimens sent from all the countries to the peaceful Exhibition ; but, as of today, we must point out in a particular way to the public attention this Leviathan of the artillery, on which one worked day and night during sixteen months, and for which it was necessary to establish a special wagon, out of iron and steel, assembled on twelve wheels, the weight of twenty-three tons, in order to be able to bring it to Paris. - Special men doubt, with the present manufacture, whether these enormous pieces of steel will stand up to prolonged firing, and this has not been tested; but this last point is precisely, in consequence of the previous results obtained at the Essen factory, the subject of lively discussion, and there is here, in any case, as a metallurgical production, leaving aside even questions which relate to the gunner's science proper and to the special forms adopted by M. Krupp in the various parts of the factory. Krupp in the various parts of these war machines, a fact of unquestionable importance. The factory which is able to supply on a regular basis a special production which, while being only about two-fifths of the total production, has amounted to not less than three thousand five hundred guns, valued at twenty-five million two hundred and fifty thousand francs", and which is at present executing for the governments of Europe and of other parts of the world Two thousand two hundred guns, worth fifteen million, of which nineteen-twentieths are rifled, breech-loaded, from the four to the three hundred calibre, and a small number of six hundred and one thousand, must possess a remarkable tooling and organisation to be able to suffice for such a considerable current production.

Forty years ago, Mr. Frederic Krupp, continuing the unsuccessful attempts of his father, began his work modestly with two workers. Today he is the sole owner of an establishment which covers an area of two hundred and four hectares, fifty-two of which are roofed, having for his particular service railways with a development of twenty-eight kilometres, and six locomotives always in motion. Buildings, supplies and equipment are worth fifty million, and each year the factory is obliged to increase its means of production in a proportion which varies from one sixth to one third. Ten thousand workers are regularly employed: eight thousand in the factory and two thousand in the coal and iron mines, and in the blast furnaces and foundries on the Rhine and in Nassau, which supply the special cast iron that is transformed into steel in Essen. For, it must not be forgotten, Mr. Krupp's production is solely that of the steel industry. Krupp's production is solely that of steel of various qualities according to the use for which it is intended, that is to say, of the metal which is the most difficult to obtain homogeneously, the hardest and the most resistant, and which we have nevertheless succeeded in casting in masses of thirty-seven thousand kilograms, and then shaping under the prodigious efforts of these steam hammers, of which the largest, the one of fifty tons, alone costs two million four hundred thousand francs, and which is working day and night so as not to lose for a single moment the interest of the immense capital employed in its construction. Need I mention the one hundred thousand crucibles with a capacity of twenty, thirty and forty kilograms each, used only once, requiring two months to dry, and intended to obtain an equal temperature in the furnaces for the molten material which will then be poured into moulds varying from sixty kilograms to thirty-seven thousand. That day, in the hall of the large castings, twelve hundred crucibles came to take their places by fours, by eights and by twelves, in furnaces ingeniously distributed, and soon the river of fire began to flow, under the direction of the foremen and the engineers. Mr. Turgan, in his fine book on large factories, has given a description of Essen, full of interest and curious facts confirmed by all the information we have been able to gather from other very authoritative sources.

Last year, the Essen factory saw its production rise to sixty-two and a half million kilograms of molten steel, and the little town which touches its walls tripled its population in less than ten years. Rarely has greater industrial fortune rewarded courage, science, a spirit of order and organisation supported by an energetic will and a perseverance that nothing can weary. There are useful lessons here for our factories which will certainly not be lost. The French metallurgy supports its rank with dignity at the Exhibition and the steel products of Messrs. Petin and Gaudet, to whom the French navy owes the remarkable plates which clad most of our battleships, obtain deserved praise, but their tools and means of production are far from being as considerable. Steel is destined to play a more important role in modern industry every day. Let them therefore redouble their efforts to fight against foreign competition and to secure for us this great and fruitful instrument of labour.

God forbid, however, that when you gaze at the Krupp exhibition from the top of the balustrade and follow the long Prussian street which stretches out under the guard of the Leviathan cannon, you should be rudely awakened by the shaking of the monstrous bells hanging at the end of the gallery near the alley which separates Belgium from Prussia, you would be driven away at once and lose the original glance which this part of the nave presents. There is a series of domes, cupolas, organ cases and machines whose lines intertwine to delight the eye.

On the right, large painted stained glass windows soften the glare of the light, and the gallery on the left has a most original physiognomy.

Not far from the salt stones, whose blocks together form such a singular spell, and in the very centre of the passage, stands the movement of Prussian mining production, copper cubes whose size strikingly represents the quantity of gold equivalent to the monetary value of these riches wrested by labour and industry from the bowels of the earth. - Every year man's labour makes the furrow more productive. From 1835 to 1844, the sum withdrawn was 25,900,000. - From 1845 to 1854, 46700000. - From 1855 to 1864, 123600000. - In 1865 it reached 180750000 francs.

This year it will be even more considerable, if nothing disturbs the peaceful campaign of work and industry so brilliantly begun, and replaces fruitful activity by sterile effort. - Let us wish Prussia and France peaceful days; let us hope that a noble emulation will animate them in these peaceful conquests of well-being and moral progress, and that at the end of this year 1867, which is already troubled by such violent questions, we may once more see the prosperity of this great country, see its industry acquire new developments, its inhabitants grow richer, and the Essen factory treble its peaceful manufacture, but sell a little less cannon, cannonballs, and engines of war


The first thing that strikes one on entering the Prussian rooms is the good arrangement of the exhibits, the picturesque and, as it were, telling way in which the organizers have succeeded in bringing out the magnificent Prussian mining and metallurgical industry, an industry which, until now, had not been appreciated at its just and high value. "Prussia gains immensely in the opinion of Europe from this competition. "This is the general statement of all those who study this exhibition. Germany is proud of its mines and rightly so. At the entrance to the hall, in the axis of the Avenue d'Europe, the eye is drawn to the brass cubes stacked on top of each other. The highest one is a facsimile of a gold ingot worth 25900,000 francs, which is precisely the average total value of the minerals mined in Prussia each year between 1835 and 1844. The ingots increase in size from year to year, and the fourth representing the pecuniary product of the Prussian mines in 1865, would be worth, if it were gold, 180750000 francs1. Black lines engraved on these cubes divide them into unequal slices which indicate the share of each mining species in the general product. It can be seen that coal accounts for two thirds, and all mineral coal, hard coal and lignite, for about three quarters of the capital conquered by the miners - a real conquest this one and not only a substitution of possessor as it takes place for military conquests. - After fuels come, in order of financial importance, iron, zinc, lead, copper, other metals and salts.

Indeed, salts are now one of Prussia's mineral resources. The most powerful salt deposit in Europe is mined mainly in the vicinity of Magdeburg, in Stassfurth. The blocks of rock salt sent from Stassfurth have been used to build a cave, which is one of the most original features of the exhibition. The salt bed is so thick and compact that it was possible to saw all the materials for the cave out of it, just as building stones are cut in quarries. This white and semi-transparent vault is high and deep enough for three or four people to stand upright, and it is raised by three steps which precede it like a staircase. On these steps, each made of a single piece of salt, have been arranged under globes the secondary products of the Stassfurth mines. Carnalite, a precious salt which is split into potassium chloride, so sought after by industry, and magnesium chloride from which is extracted the metal whose flame rivals electric light; polyalite, a multiple sulphate which also contains a lot of potash; boracite, the name of which indicates that it contains boric acid, the use of which is becoming more and more numerous; kiéserite, which is simply the salt of Sedlitz or Epsom; and other salts, but the list is already too long. In 1865 the Stassfurth mines produced one hundred and twenty-eight million kilograms of ordinary rock salt or refined salt, and thirty-six million kilograms of potassium salts.

Alongside their products is a glass relief plan of the Stassfurth mines, which allows the eye to plunge into the depths of the earth and to see the succession of layers that are superimposed on it, from the surface to the rock salt, in the middle of which the mining galleries are dug, half a kilometre below the ground. This ingenious model is on a scale of one eight hundredth.

The salt cave is flanked by two pyramids which represent the amount of coal produced by Prussia at ten-year intervals in 1855 and 1865. Each pyramid consists of seven dice of coal, the same number as in the Prussian coalfields.

The proportion of exposed samples to the mass of extracted fuel is that of one cubic centimetre to eight and a half tonnes of coal. The largest block corresponds to the Westphalian coalfield, the largest in Germany; the smallest to the Minden mines. In 1855 the total production was 8107,850 tons; in 1865 it had more than doubled to 18,592,000 tons. France produces barely two-thirds of this quantity.

The Rhine coalfields supply mainly those steelworks, forges, and foundries, about which M. de Castellane gave such interesting details the other day; this will dispense us from insisting on the magnificent samples of puddled, melted, forged, twisted, and worked steel and iron which are the pearls of the Prussian exhibition. But we shall admire the metallurgical collection of the famous Harz mines, where the age-old labour of man has excavated whole mountains, where the deepest shafts sink vertically nearly a thousand metres below ground, where a canal has been dug in tunnel, carrying a boat over a part of the length which reaches six leagues, double the length of the Mont Cenis tunnel.

It is easy to follow all the details of the manufacture of copper. Here we see first the stony ore, in which shine veins of copper pyrites. In the middle of these abundant materials we find some rare species, composed of sulphur, antimony and arsenic, mineral flowers with a silky and velvety aspect, with brilliant shades, passing from bright yellow to scarlet red by the purest orange. Copper pyrite is first roasted in the air, which strips it of most of the sulphur it contains, which burns off. The ore is smelted, roasted again six to eight times, and then re-smelted. The copper obtained in this way is black and contains silver; in order to separate this metal, lead is added to the copper, heated, and the lead sinks and carries away the silver. The purified copper forms bubbly discs of a beautiful red colour called rosettes.

The copper rosettes are stacked opposite the ore samples, and next to them are all the other products of the sulphides mined: blue vitriol crystals, lead brines, sulphur canisters, silver cake and gold powder. Finally, the exhibition is completed by an enormous hemispherical vessel and a large blade made from Harz copper.

A colonnade made of zinc enhanced with copper, exhibited by Silesia, a gigantic roll of lead sheet metal, pipes of the same metal of decreasing diameter, coiled like snakes, still strike the eye in this room.

The next rooms are devoted to chemicals. The most remarkable samples are those of the colours extracted from coal. It is marvellous to see this blackish coal, which we have just studied, give rise to these brilliant shades which embrace the whole range of the prism. It is singular to see that several of these colours, which give fabrics a richer purple or blue tint, shine by themselves with a golden green colour, which is only found on the armour of beetles.

Rare things like lithin carbonate occur in quantity in the midst of these chemicals, and things that are almost unknown to chemists themselves, such as erbium compounds, can be noted.

Let us protest in passing against the monstrous expressions adopted by nomenclators. We have noticed such names as carbotriphenyltrlamine, 22 letters! Such words amount to a whole sentence.

Among the new industries revealed by this exhibition is the extraction of sulphur from the residues of soda manufacture, which until now have served only to poison the land in which they were deposited.

There are still two rooms devoted to leathers and wools, but a strong smell of tan repels the curious, and we shall refrain from introducing readers to them.

We prefer, at the risk of making them sin by envy, to lead them to the wagons of the railway from Halle to Cassel.

One cannot imagine anything more comfortable than these carriages with their gilded ceilings and velvet sofas with white silk pads. The second cars themselves are transformed into lounges, which lack neither mirrors nor a central pedestal table. But the most precious annex of these wagons is a closet where, thanks to a dressing table with a silver tap, travellers can get rid of that odious soot with which one is smeared after an hour's journey by rail. It seems to us impossible that our companies should not hasten to adopt such an excellent system of carriages.

This communion of nations, which enables each people to borrow from its neighbours what they do well and beautifully, is certainly one of the great results of the universal contest.

After having admired the Prussian exhibition, one realizes, by entering into relation with the Prussians, that these cannon-makers, these sabre-draggers, these so-called Gallo-pliers are - individually - polite, benevolent and gentle: they see on their side that we do not hate their country and their compatriots as they imagine, and this rapprochement does more for the appeasement of angers and hatreds than all the skill of diplomacy. The German exhibition, in short, is perfectly beautiful, and one cannot leave it without remembering the words of Victor Hugo: "If I were not French, I would like to be German. "

©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée