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Miscellaneous Industries - Expo Liege 1905

Miscellaneous Industries at the Exhibition Expo Liege 1905

The fifteenth group brought together the various industries which the classification in use had not been able to attach to the previous groups, such as Stationery, Cutlery, Goldsmiths, Jewellery, Watches, Bronzes and Ironwork, Brushmaking, Leatherwork, Tableware and Basketry, Rubber Industries, Travel and Camping Goods, Bimbeloterie.

In spite of its too vague denomination, to which the qualification "various" seemed to give a very accessory importance, this group was one of the richest and most luxurious of the French section; the classes of Goldsmiths, Jewellers, and Jewellers, in particular, brought together the first houses of France; their showcases sparkled with the rarest and most precious gems, mounted in ornaments, with a delicate and exquisite taste.

The Bronze class, as an industry, was no less remarkable, although there were some rather old-fashioned subjects, such as are to be found on all the fireplaces of our "classical" salons.

To be noted, from another point of view, the so amusing, so ingenious exhibition of the toys of Paris.


Class 92 (Stationery) began the group.

This grouping, which should not be confused with class 58, to which the manufacture of paper belonged, had as part of its remit to bring together all the industries using paper as a raw material and those related to it, such as pencils, inks, napkins, etc.

This indication would suffice to give the general composition of the class, which contained mainly registers, inks, sealing waxes, metal pens, pencils, and office supplies of all kinds and qualities.

On the other hand, lace paper, embossed paper, glued card, coated card, cut card for business cards, letter envelopes and shaped paper were available in a variety of forms and designs to great effect.

In the luxury and fancy cardboard industry, the expert hand of the Parisian worker was recognisable, giving an original grace to a crumpled paper, a delicately placed bow.

In this genre, the truly artistic creations of France were represented in Liege by bags, boxes and cases of all sizes. The richest fabrics are used for their manufacture, and paintings, often very fine, enhance their elegance and cachet.

These objects were very evocative. These were the boxes for confectioners, pink and white, wrapped in ribbons, reminiscent of christenings, of small ceremonies where the touching and the graceful are mixed together; the delicious work boxes where fine hands of idle women would have fun for a long time.

In another genre, there were special papers for draughtsmen and lithographers, labels of all kinds, advertising calendars, which are now so widely used, and finally, of particular interest, the "Papec" product based on dry inks, from Jean Plateau, which is used to avoid the halo on photographic plates.

The various works of the students of the "Ecole professionnelle de la Chambre syndicale du papier" (Professional School of the Paper Trade Union Chamber) attested to the real skill of their authors, combined with a very keen sense of beauty. This school perfects young apprentices, both boys and girls, in the various paper processing industries and devotes a special course to cardboard manufacture.


Classes 94, 95, 96, i.e. Goldsmithing, Jewellery and Watchmaking, occupied a single room, opening onto the large central aisle of the Halls.

Three large bays gave access to it, allowing the public to circulate easily in the midst of the marvels it contained
The middle of the exhibition was reserved for the monument: "Via Vitae", by Mr. Chaumet, and in front of this monument, in an open-worked glass case, a beautiful Empire tea table, the work of Mr. André Aucoc, was placed; to the right, there was an island of jewellery showcases; to the left, the collective exhibition of watchmaking, and behind it, other islands of showcases and stands formed a harmonious and practical whole for the visitor.

In superb showcases, grouped in stands of modern or classical style, the various exhibition elements of these classes took on the special relief likely to give them their true decorative value.

The work of Mr. Chaunet was said to be worth a million francs. Visitors constantly admired the gold of his statuettes, the diamond host with ruby inlay that dominated it, and its Algerian onyx base.

The inspiring idea of this monument was the representation of the forces of nature in the path of life, under the dominating impulse of the Idea of Christ, Redeemer of the World, the different phases of the life of Christ being represented by groups sheltered in the hollows of the precious rock.

On the other hand, the various pieces of gold and silverware included planters, tableware and vases of unprecedented richness.

The largest shops in Paris exhibited in this class. MM. Henry frères and C'^ had transformed their stand into a real living room, decorated with woodwork and antique panels. In this luxurious decor, their beautiful pieces of silverware seemed to come from the treasure of some ancient family. The solid silver table, presented by Mr. André Aucoc, will remain one of the most beautiful pieces of silverware of the century.

Mr. Risler and Mr. Carré had also transformed their stand into a Louis XV salon. One could see superb jardinières, like the one this firm supplied to the City of Paris, to offer to the King of Spain.

Finally, Messrs Debain, Boulanger et Cie, Poussièlgue-Rusand, Féau, Feuillâtre and others, contributed to the good reputation of French silverware with superb displays.

Jewellery was no less brilliantly represented.

Under your translucent glasses, the diamond aigrettes trembled, fine as mist suddenly frozen, the pearls of all shades shone, the jewels set, the large necklaces of an inestimable value.

The jewellers' concern to give their creations a modern touch was evident. Indeed, in addition to jewels made of pure metals and of classic shapes, one noticed others, made of alloys with harmonious colours, and taking on new decorative forms of great beauty.

Alongside these luxury items, there was also costume jewellery, which is now increasingly in demand. It is known that it is becoming common practice to wear fake pearls as a precautionary measure, instead of the real ones that are left in safes.

French watchmaking was represented by the main houses of Paris and Besançon.

In the elegant showcase, conceived and executed according to the plans of Mr. Louis Leroy, the famous watchmaker of the State Navy, one could see marine chronometers, astronomical regulators, precision watches, timepieces and finally luxury chronometers, in gold, chased and set with fine stones.


Bronzes, cast iron and metalwork, and embossed metals, forming class 97, followed the Goldsmiths', Jewellery and Watchmaking Exhibition, and immediately preceded the Salon d'Honneur, known as the Salon de France.

The overall view of the class, carefully arranged, gave the visitor an immediate impression, provoking the desire for a detailed examination.

The perimeter occupied by the stands, with back panels, served as a frame for the central part divided into four completely clear islands.

The most diverse productions were on display, from imitation bronzes, whose tendency to publish works of merit should be mentioned, to the most beautiful specimens of French manufacture.

The houses of Bagnes, Ettlinger frères, Leblanc-Barbedienne, Pinedo, Siot-Decauville and Vian occupied particular stands where the connoisseur could, without difficulty, distinguish a number of very beautiful pieces.

However, this class had insisted above all on an eclectic representation. In the statuettes and fancy clocks in art and imitation bronze, pewter, groups, vases, etc., two tendencies were discernible: one, of a nature to please people of good taste, showed us reproductions of works of real beauty, such as the Rodins; and the other, desirous of satisfying the taste of the general public, specialised in the production of chimney-piece groups representing "Work", "Science", "Navigation", "Courage", etc.

However, in one or other of these types of production, there was a concern for conscientious workmanship and a real progress in the beauty of the colours and the refined charm of the patinas that cover the bronze, in the manner of a mould.

In this jumble of statuettes, clocks, ironwork and lighting fixtures, it was the beauty of the colours that stood out. Alongside the classic bronze and the verdigrised bronze, there were gilded bronzes, blackened bronzes; others with velvety shades of fruit, plums and grapes; then pewter, black ironwork, terracotta on which a glint of fire flew.

Here and there, among this dark mass, burst, like a poppy, some red lampshade, intended, no doubt, to filter a warm glow in a sumptuous interior, full of heavy fabrics.


Class 98, comprising Brushmaking, Leather Goods, Tableware and Basketry, was located between the Crystal, Glass and Ceramics Show and the Motor Show.

Its showcases, painted in mahogany, in a modernised Louis XV style, were of the best effect and harmonised perfectly with the general tone of the objects on display.

The overall look was perfect, elegant yet sober.

In addition to the luxury items, the cheap items had a very important place. This class included, in short, the products of a very large number of industries dealing with the most diverse materials. The name "Articles de Paris" is used to designate the products of these various industries, since almost all of them originated in the capital of France.


Brushmaking has a very distant origin. The Virga, a kind of flexible stick used by the Romans to beat their togas and tunics, marks the date. As its use spread, it gave rise to the "vergettier" industry, a name that was used to designate brush manufacturers until 1789.

Nowadays, the brush is largely manufactured mechanically.

The brush industry includes a large number of products for all uses: from clothes brushes to brushes for art painting.


The leather goods industry started out using Moroccan goat skin, hence the name.

Today, all skins that can be worked are used. The industry encompasses an infinite variety of items. The main ones are wallets, purses, card holders, cases of all kinds, cigar and cigarette holders, music holders, picture frames, various ladies' boxes, handbags, belts, gibecières, etc.

Finally, it also includes art leather, embellished, embossed, embossed, the renovation of which, in France, is largely due to Mr. Saint-André de Lignereux.


The Tabletterie industry is divided into various categories. These are:
Bone, ivory, mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell tableware;
Carved wood tableware: small fancy furniture, boxes and kits; clay, wood and meerschaum pipes;
Horn, celluloid and wood combs;
Small bronzes and religious articles.
These sections are themselves subdivided into a host of small industries making a multitude of
a multitude of known and commonly used objects.


This industry is as old as the world.

The raw materials used in basketry are:
1° Wicker, which includes four species: green wicker, which is easy to work with; yellow wicker, which is used for fine wickerwork; red wicker, the split strands of which are used for cooperage; and ordinary wicker, which is used for large-scale basketry.

2° Rattan, a liana from the Sunda Islands, often reaching a very long length. When it arrives in France in its raw state, it is mechanically stripped to produce a filament which is used for caning chairs.

3° Straw, raffia, esparto grass, rushes, reeds and bamboo.

There are three types of basketry: coarse basketry, fine basketry and furniture basketry.

Large basketry includes all baskets for industrial use; fine basketry includes all small baskets and fancy objects. The basketry of furnishing, made mainly out of rattan or bamboo, includes all the objects of furnishing for the countryside.

In all these industries, France was particularly noted for the beauty of its products and the care taken in their manufacture.


These two sister industries, which are increasingly developing in France, were represented here by objects for travel and camping, in class Q9.

The houses Rémi Artus, Alphonse Brévi, Maille-Lavolaille, Louis Vuiton were represented by ordinary and luxury trunks; Messrs. E. Cauvin-Yvose and Léon Porte exhibited, the one tents and accessories for gardens, the other garden screens and bathing tents; Mr. Robert presented especially baby bottles without tubes; Mr. Volant rubber skates for horses.

The various manufactured rubber objects came from the houses of Boland, Victor le Renard, the Manufacture générale de caoutchouc L. Edeline, the Société des Anciens établissements Hutchinson, and the Etablissements Falconnet-Perodeaud.


The Bimbeloterie, or by its more suggestive name the toy industry, fell within the remit of class 100, which ended the group of miscellaneous industries.

Toys, whose origin cannot be determined since they date back to the most remote times, are the prerogative of children in all countries; the most savage tribes as well as the most civilised peoples, the poorest children as well as the richest children, have always adored toys. It is in their choice that the first revelations of the child's character are made; they determine vocations, and without wishing to claim that all those who had, in their childhood, a predilection for model trains became engineers or machinists, it is permissible to find in them an indication of imagination combined with a sense of observation. Toys, too, have a soul; children discover this soul, already applying to it the faculties that will later help them to find meaning in purely external life; great men were great from their toys onwards; and more than one writer has left us characteristic details about the toys of his childhood.

Finally, to conclude this praise of toys, let us say that Anatole France, of the French Academy, once congratulated our great writer Camille Lemonnier for having devoted one of his books to them, and that after him, many other valuable writers, such as Léo Claretie, have written on this very evocative subject.

To enumerate the number of occupations that toys occupy, to quote them, to draw out their individual charms, would lead us to prolix developments.

One was the concern of manufacturers to produce ingenious and inexpensive toys; the other was to make scientific and sophisticated toys, veritable mechanical laboratory instruments.

In the first category, we found these toys touching for what they represent in the childish imagination: the thirteen penny dolls, the mannequins, the painted dummies, the little automatons: the porter, the baker, the orange seller, the fireman, the lawyer gesticulating at the end of his large and wide sleeves, the vehement pianist, the cook and how many others still.

In the second category, there were gyroscopes, locomotives and steam engines, automobiles, articulated dolls talking, singing, closing their eyes.

There were also the frustrated toys that charmed the childhood of many of those who read this book and of ourselves: military equipment with epaulettes, shakos, tin sabres, good little cardboard horses on wheels, toy soldiers, construction boxes, lotto boxes, patience boxes, rubber balls, shooting games, pistons, trumpets, flutes, instruments of a deafening and delicious hullabaloo.

As in all exhibitions, the toys and games section was one of the most visited. Children and adults alike were interested in these trinkets which, for the latter, were still objects of pleasure and recreation, whose desire to possess them would make them perform wonders, and for the former, a provocation to more or less distant memories, recalling the happy days when, as possessors of similar toys, they tasted a bliss which, alas, they never found again, even in the happiest circumstances of their lives.

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Liège 1905