International Exposition of Paris 1867

Agriculture, Industry and Fine Arts

April 1, 1867 - November 3, 1867


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Algeria

Algeria at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1867

Trophy of the Colony.

The Algerian trophy does not have, like those of Tunisia and Morocco, the pretension of putting before the eyes of the visitors to the Universal Exhibition specimens of a more or less advanced, more or less ornamented civilisation; Modest like the nascent colony it personifies, the Algerian trophy is hardly more than a simple sign supported by palm trees indicating that on one side ends the exhibition of France, below the Mediterranean, and that on the other side begins a new France, France beyond the Mediterranean, partly Muslim, partly Christian, still sparsely populated by European settlers (about 250,000, not including the army of occupation), but a conquest as legitimate as it is glorious, and already commendable for its many services. These services can be recalled in the report of an International Exhibition, for France was not alone in benefiting from them.

The Mediterranean was purged of the pirates and privateers who plundered and captured merchant ships, regardless of their pavilion;
Christianity was freed from the humiliating taxes it paid to the Pachas of Algiers and Tunis, as well as to the Emperor of Morocco;

Tunisia and Morocco brought into better political and commercial relations with the Christian powers, as a result of the good neighbourly influence with Algeria;

Turkey rescued, Italy freed, Syria pacified, China opened to the trade of all nations, Cochinchina and Japan called to new destinies with the preponderant help of the soldiers and sailors trained in the great school of the African Army;

Finally, a new land reconquered to civilisation, after twelve centuries of barbarism, and a great colony, with a total area of sixty million hectares, placed at the disposal of emigrants from all over Europe, under the protection of French laws and sociability.

These titles to public recognition could, it seems to us, have been recalled by coats of arms or by some symbols which would not have harmed the decoration of the trophy of Algeria.

But let us leave this trophy, of which our drawing gives an exact image, and let us go down from the platform of the gallery of machines, to walk along the left side of the rue des Pays-Bas, exclusively devoted to the exhibition of the products of Algeria.


Products of Algeria in general.

Already, at the previous Universal Exhibitions in Paris and London, Algeria had revealed its productive power, the inexhaustible fertility of its soil, the infinite variety of its mineral, vegetable and animal riches; today, after five years which were for the nascent colony a period of terrible trials: political crisis in 1863, insurrection of the natives in 1864, fire of the whole coastline in 1865, invasion of locusts in 1866, earthquakes in 1867, with extreme drought as an inevitable consequence of the fires, and as a consequence of the drought, locusts and insurrections, famine among the natives; It demonstrates to the most incredulous that no plague of heaven or earth has been able to shake the faith of the colonists in the future of their work, nor to hinder the continually progressive development of European colonisation.

The friends of Algeria had already been reassured of its material situation by the results of the last general census of the population and by the still sustained figures of its imports and exports; but the products, so numerous, so varied and so important, which the colonists have just sent to the great competition of the Champ de Mars, testify that the moral situation is no less good than the material one, and that the country, which was once the granary of the Roman world, is still destined to be the granary of France and of Western Europe.

For this privileged land, whose Climate is so admirable, it is a sort of sin of habit to astonish the world by the novelty of its products, for in ancient times, as today, every ship arriving from the southern coast of the Mediterranean was asked: "Quid novi fert Africa? The exhibition of Algeria obliges us to answer this question: "What does African France give us again? "
We shall summarise our answer in these few words:
"Just about all the products of the Mediterranean basin; plus, through acclimatisation, those of all the most favoured regions of the globe. "

The space allotted to us in this issue does not allow us to review all that the Algerian exhibition comprises; we will therefore limit ourselves to pointing out to the readers what is most remarkable about it. For our review to be complete, it would have to compare the products of Algeria with their counterparts in other regions; but this economic study, which would be of great interest, would exceed the limits imposed on us.

Let us proceed with our review, as far as possible, according to the order of the catalogue, beginning with man. With all due respect.


Algerian ethnology.

Contrary to popular opinion, the indigenous population of Algeria, as in Tunisia and Morocco, is Berber and not Arab. Hence the collective name 'Berber states', and by corruption 'Barbary states', given by many geographers to the three main principalities of the Atlantic peninsula.

The pure Berber race is represented at the Exhibition by two young Kabyles who cut corks from the cork of their country.

The gentleness of these two men, still beardless, combined with the energy of their physiognomy, their accentuated features and the intelligence they reveal, their aptitude for manual work and the assiduity they bring to the accomplishment of their task, make everyone stop, examine and remain amazed. These two young workers are not the type of Arab, the Arab with his steed, as portrayed by novelists, and as he really is, i.e. nomadic, adventurous, a born enemy of work. No, it is not that, and that is the great merit of exhibitions like the one that attracts so many people to Paris, to show things as they are. Thanks to these two Kabyle workers, whom an enlightened inspiration has brought to Paris, the millions of visitors to the Ex-position will know that in Algeria, next to the fighting, quarrelsome, undisciplined Arab, there is the Berber-Kabyle, industrious, docile, and capable by his intelligence of becoming a devoted auxiliary of European and Christian colonisation, for the Berber is an ancient Christian, of the same race as St. Augustine and so many of the other Fathers of the African Church.

Kebila, in the Algerian language, means tribe with fixed residence, usually living in houses; thus the name Kabyle is equivalent to the word urban in our language, while the name Arab corresponds to the word mobile or nomadic.

In order to become acquainted with the Arab and his civilisation, the visitor to the Exhibition will have to leave the enclosure of the Palais for a moment and go among the tents erected in the south-western part of the Park, near the Porte de Grenelle.

There he will find a camp of six tents arranged in a circle, in the form of a douar, around a group of kneeling camels, and, in the largest of the tents, a few sleeping camel-drivers, who could have been a little better chosen to give an exact idea of the true Arab type, if however this type can be found in Algeria, so rare is it there.

Here, in a few lines, are the distinctive characters of two races so often confused with each other:
Arabian. -Tall and slender, pyriform head with narrow and receding forehead, bony and arched nose, black eyes, hair and beard.
Berber. - Medium height, strong bone structure, round and voluminous head, wide and straight forehead, fleshy nose, square chin, eyes, hair and beard varying from black to red.
The Arab is an Asian, the Berber has more resemblance to the European.

More numerous are the sub-types due to the mixture of various races, namely:
The Arabized Berber, who constitutes the majority of the Algerian population, and who is represented at the Exhibition by weavers, embroiderers, shoemakers and others;

The Moor or inhabitant of the cities, coming from all the races that the flood of revolutions has carried to the northern coast of Africa, particularly the Muslims of Spain and those of the various islands of the Mediterranean; to this sub-type belong the merchants of articles known as Algiers, manufactured for the most part in France, who occupy some of the shops on the outer perimeter of the Exhibition;

The Coulougli or son of Turk and Moor, of which the goldsmith of Tlemcen, installed in a kiosk next to embroiderers and shoemakers, gives us a rather pure sample;

Finally, the mixed blood of the Negro in all degrees, very common in all Algeria.

But let us move on to the serious business of the colonial exhibition.


Raw materials.

This group includes mines, forests, fishing, non-food agricultural products, hides and skins.

How many exceptional riches Algeria offers in these various classes!

Let us mention in the first line an eighth wonder of the world: the magnetic iron ores of Mokta-el-Hadid, near Bône, represented at the Exhibition by an enormous block of almost pure iron, because the foreign materials are certainly less than 10 per cent.

The Arabic name of this deposit is Carrière de fer, and this name is correct, since the mountain which constitutes it is a powerful massif which is exploited in the open air, without waste, like an ordinary quarry.

The quality of the iron is equal to that of the best known irons. He who writes these lines has, since 1847, a dozen table knives made from this iron, and, after twenty years of continuous service, they are still as sharp as on the first day. Friends who have been using razors of the same origin since the same period have never needed to have them ironed.

The great merit of the Mokta-el-Hadjd ore is that it improves all the French iron ores with which it is mixed; so it is mainly exploited today to supply the factories in France.

The metallurgical establishment of Le Creusot, whose reputation is now European, owes the improvement of its production largely to the use of the ores of Mokta-el-Hadid.

All the engineers are unanimous in proclaiming that the plates in which these ores are used in the proportion of 25% offer a power of resistance unknown until now, progress which is summarized in safety for the boilers of steam plants.

Let us therefore welcome, in the inexhaustible quarry of Mokta-el-Hadid, the addition which relieves French irons of their inferiority to foreign irons.

A 26-kilometre-long railway carries the ores from the foot of the quarry to the port of Bône, where a fleet of large steamships takes them to the ports of France. From our ports, these ores go to our main forges and from there, transformed into cast iron, sheet metal or steel, they spread to thousands of manufacturing workshops where they call for the work of millions of workers.

In this century of iron and steel, Mokta-el-Ha-did is worth all the known silver and gold deposits, so the powerful company which exploits it has not hesitated to devote a considerable capital to the export of its products. This export now amounts to 200,000 tons per year.

Not far from Mokta-el-Hadid, in the middle of the similar deposits of Béléliéta and Bou-Hamra, near the Mamelon of ancient Hippone, are the factories and blast furnaces of Alelik, built twenty years ago by the Duke of Bassano, today the Emperor's Grand Chamberlain. From now on, the various iron deposits in the vicinity of Bône, with the establishments which depend on them, are united in association with the Compagnie des minerais de fer magnétiques de Mokta-el-Hadid, whose headquarters are in Paris. It is regrettable, however, to see a company, which draws from the bosom of Algeria the most clear-cut of its riches, not considering it a duty towards the colony to maintain the factories and blast furnaces of Alelik in production. These factories cannot lack charcoal, for the forests of the Edough, Beni-Salah, La Cale and Filfila provide more than enough. It is true that the woods of these forests give a coal unsuitable for smelting metals; but this reason, under which the speculation takes refuge, is ill-founded, for the Vandals obtained very good iron with the same woods; for, even today, the Kabyles treat the ores of Bou-Aklan with the charcoal of the country and obtain the iron which is used for the manufacture of their weapons and their agricultural instruments.

To act as the Mokta-el-Hadid company does is to create absenteeism in Algeria,
- a plague which is eating away at Ireland and which would soon ruin our beautiful colony of Africa,
- because, we repeat after the Marshal Duke of Malakoff, "everything commands us to fix in Algeria a numerous and strong European population, first to transform the soil, then to preserve it. "

Moreover, Algeria consumes iron and it is strange that it is obliged to draw it from outside, when it has ores, coals and factories which can produce it.

Other iron mines, equally rich, exist all along the Algerian coast and are only waiting to be exploited when large companies are formed.

The silver lead mine of Kef-oum-el-Teboul also gives considerable income to its concessionaires.

That of Gar-Rouban, also of silver lead and also in exploitation, awaits only a transformation of company to reach the results obtained by its rival of Kef-oum-el-Te-bout.

Independently of the samples of these exploitations, the Algerian Exhibition abounds in copper, mercury, antimony and silver ores.

Then come the saccharoid, turquoise blue, white and statuary marbles of the Filfila quarries, near Philippeville, exploited by Messrs. Dunand and Nick; those of the Chenoua quarries, near Algiers, exploited by Mr. Tardieu; finally, the translucent onyxes of the province of Oran, from which decorative art draws so much benefit for the ornamentation of palaces and sumptuous salons. Lost since antiquity, the product of Algerian quarries is now destined to take an important place in our luxury constructions, because the deposits of this beautiful marble are very extensive and we can
are very extensive and are being discovered every day.

It is impossible to enumerate all the mineralogical wealth on display; we must renounce it.

The same applies to the products of forestry operations and industries; we shall limit ourselves to drawing attention to the collections of wood from the forestry service; to the corks from Messrs. de Monte-bello, Berihon-Lecoq et Cie, Besson et Cie, Duprat, Chabannes du Peux; to the resinous materials from M. Perrot de Chamarel, from Boghar.

The collection of wood sent by the forestry administration is truly remarkable, but it is not yet complete, and it does not sufficiently highlight the varied resources that the cabinetmaker, turner, wheelwright and machine builder can find in the wealth of Algerian forests.

A few settlers, among them Messrs Mazars, Lavie and the manager of the Union agricole de Sig, have tried to make up for this shortcoming, but simple private individuals do not have, like a public administration, the elements that underpin convictions and provoke the spirit of enterprise, so necessary in a country almost unknown as Algeria.

Beautiful burls and roots of cedar exhibited by the local committee of Teniet-el-Had show what exceptional riches this species makes available to French cabinet making.

Mr. Hardy, director of the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Algiers, tells us about some of the arboricultural products of his establishment which the industry can use successfully: date palms and latanier, reeds, bamboos, etc.

But cork remains unquestionably the most serious product of Algeria's forestry operations, in spite of the periodic fires that too often compromise the development of this important production.

Great capital, companies and the most honourable people have responded to the government's call to develop the Algerian forests, which are the property of the State; it is hard to understand why the government, which is so powerful in Algeria, should, for want of effective repression, allow the probable destruction of a common resource, one of the most fruitful exploited by European colonisation, along with a raw material.

The more industry progresses, the more cork becomes necessary; to this upward movement of needs corresponds an inverse movement of production, because the cork oak forests limited to the Mediterranean basin disappear every day. There is therefore an immense interest in the conservation of those in Algeria.

As regards products of hunting and fishing, we shall mention only the ostrich feathers of the Sahara, and the coral fished exclusively on the Algerian coast by foreign sailors and which, in Italy, is going to ask foreign hands for its use.

Since a new science, mariculture, has solved many problems, it is to be regretted that coral fishing has not benefited from the advantages of the diving bell, for instead of destroying the coral beds, as is done today with backward procedures, one would limit oneself to the picking of the most beautiful branches of the precious zoopbyte and it becomes a matter of choice that our skilful workers in Paris would not abandon to the Italians the monopoly of the manufacture of coral jewellery.

For non-food agricultural products, Algeria has 251 exhibitors, and among them, many exhibit ten, twenty and thirty samples of various articles, each more remarkable than the other, but among which it is impossible for us to make a choice in a general examination.

The collection of leaf tobacco, in manacles or manufactured, shows a very considerable progress over the previous exhibitions. At least, this part of Algerian production, for which an entire compartment is reserved, has the privilege of being on view, in the best conditions for the observer's eye.

The international jury, we are assured, has given the most favourable judgement on Algerian tobaccos, although they are still criticised for not being combustible enough.

Soon the public will be able to judge the quality of the colony's cigars, for authorization to sell them within the Exhibition enclosure, which has already been granted to the Tunisian exhibitors, is expected any moment now.

After tobacco, comes a series of animal and vegetable textiles which includes silks, wools, camel hair, goat hair, angora goat hair, horsehair, linen, hemp, dwarf palm products, esparto grass, china grass, milkweed or vegetable silk, and mulberry tree yarn.

Algeria exhibits four species of silk: mulberry, castor-oil, ailante and a Senegalese jujube tree. The first one alone calls for attention and continues to be well appreciated.

Merino, half-merino and ordinary wools, washed or in suint, abound. It is said that the jury has awarded them good prizes and that there has been great progress since the last exhibitions, but the public cannot judge anything about it, because the wools are generally rolled up in fleeces and piled up in shelves under the windows. The only exceptions are three wool mills: one in the name of Mr. Viguier, from Boufar, near Guelma; the other in the name of Mr. Leturc, from Markouna, near Batna; the third without the name of the owner or the locality.

The cottons fill nearly 200 jars, and each jar represents either an exhibitor or a variety of cotton. The contents of twenty of these jars were judged to be unrivalled in the Exhibition. Only one exhibitor from Australia offered a competing sample. One large gold medal, out of two awarded to cottons by the jury, was awarded to Algeria.

It is still the province of Oran which holds the first rank in cotton production, and, in this province, it is Mr. Masquelier, already winner of the Emperor's great prizes, who prevails over the other exhibitors.

Linen comes after wheat and cotton in the order of importance and success of the Algerian exhibition, and, for this product, it is the province of Algiers which triumphs over the other two. The French Company, of which Mr. Du Mesgnil is the director, has an important part in this happy result.

With the Mitidja flax, we have obtained yarns n° 120, 140 and even 160 suitable for the most delicate works, without excluding batiste and lace.

The progress noted from year to year gives reason to hope that we will obtain even better results.

Hemp is also very beautiful.

The products of the dwarf palm include ordinary and improved vegetable hair, yarns, cables, ropes, cordage and paper, which appear to be very strong.

The esparto, like the dwarf palm, is used for the manufacture of paper, rope and wickerwork. While waiting for the esparto trees in the steppes to be exploited, an English company in Oran used 600,000 francs worth of them in 1866.

Among the dyeing substances, the Algerian exhibition includes cochineal, animal kermes, henna, indigo, madder, saffron, garou and safflower; but henna alone, used by the natives and requested by the Lyon trade for dyeing silks, gives rise to operations of some importance.

Tannins are only listed as a reminder, although the colony could provide large quantities.

Among the oilseeds: tallow, rapeseed, poppy seed, castor oil, linseed, sesame, groundnut, camelina, madia, none has yet taken a serious place in local production.

Finally, to complete the series of non-food agricultural products, we should mention honey, wax, sleeping poppies, nigelia, fenu-greek, coriander, white mustard, pyrethrum and an extract of the lentisque tree.

Could this last product, exhibited by Mr. Firmin Dufourc of Algiers, be the essence of the Pistacia lentisciis that the Berber states used to supply to the trade and which was so sought after by painters for the varnish of their paintings? Let us hope so for the sake of Algeria, for the lentisk is very common there.

We shall say only two words about hides and skins. Beautiful panther and lion skins adorn the walls, but the hides deposited under the entablature of the showcases are not visible.

Let us summarise the chapter on raw materials:
Four Algerian products, iron ores from Mokta-el-Hadid, translucent onyxes, cedars and cottons defy all competition in the Universal Exhibition;
Four other products, tobacco, wools, linens and henna hold a very distinguished place among their similar products.
In the rest of this study, we will have the opportunity to note other successes off the line.

©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée