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Belgium - Expo Paris 1889

Belgium at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1889

Belgium did not take part officially in the Exhibition, and yet the government had 600,000 francs of subsidy voted by the Chambers.

Belgium has no official commissioner, and yet the Belgian government has officially notified the French government of the appointment of a commissioner from an unofficial commission. These are anomalies that can only be explained by the struggle that King Leopold's government had to sustain between an official policy hostile to the French enterprise and a current of popular feeling.

The main thing is that Belgium is represented at the Champ de Mars and it is represented in a very interesting way, as we shall see.

The various Belgian exhibitions occupy a total surface area of more than 13,000 square metres, broken down as follows: at the Champ de Mars, galleries of various industries, 3,750 square metres; at the Galerie des Machines, 4,000 square metres and 400 square metres on the balconies; pavilions for particular exhibitions in the gardens, 1,500 square metres.

At the Quai d'Orsay, agricultural and food products cover an area of 950 square metres, at the Liberal Arts 430 metres. The rest is divided among the various sections: Fine Arts, Social Economy, Forestry, etc.

The Miscellaneous Industries section is located on the Avenue de La Bourdonnais side and borders on one side the large transverse gallery that leads to the dome of honour,

Its façade is 50 metres long and includes a double portico whose uprights are made up of exhibits: it is made of old wood painted to imitate the colour of old Flemish furniture. Above each entrance door is a relief map of industrial Belgium and Africa with the state of Congo.

There are products of all classes: every industry has wanted to be represented and in the considerable number of these partial exhibitions it is difficult to make a choice. Several showcases are filled with works of truly perfect workmanship. The laces of Mechelen are especially noteworthy and support their universal reputation.

In the middle of the lace hall, in an elegant pavilion, Flemish lacemakers work before the public's eyes.

Then, still at the entrance to the section, there are exhibitions of glassware, bronzes, ceramics and in general of all artistic industries.

Further on, there is the bodywork section, which shows us some very fine models (ordinary cars and gala carriages). Then there is furniture, which proves that Belgian cabinetmakers are very skilful. The Dammam and Washer company is worth mentioning, which exhibits wood mosaics and inlays in different shades of wood to great decorative effect. The exhibition of the textile industry is also very comprehensive. In the centre of one of the halls you can see all the different stages of wool, from the raw state to the finest fabrics. A large square pavilion, draped in blue velvet, houses an exhibition of furs, decorated in an original, if not happy, way. The columns seem to be made of rolled up skins. Next to the Danish and Dutch sections are leather goods, knick-knacks, clothing, heating, etc.

Further on, a tent rises up: this is the military equipment section and in the same vein, in the last gallery, facing England, there is an exhibition of weapons, shotguns, revolvers, hunting knives, daggers, etc.

And that's not all. In the large transverse gallery, opposite the Belgian exhibition, a complete plan of the port of Antwerp has been installed. This reduction allows you to see at a glance the layout of this gigantic port and to understand its importance.

On leaving the gallery, on the right and left, along the Avenue de La Bourdonnais, are pavilions housing particular exhibitions. On the right is a group of three elegant buildings. First, the pavilion of the Belgian commissariat, made of brick and local blue stone, with applications of Belgian marble. Next, the exhibition of Mr. Blaton Aubert, manufacturer of hydraulic cement (statues, tiles, ceramics, etc.). Next, the exhibition of Mr. Solvay (potash factory). On the left, in a large varnished fir-wood building, the exhibition of the Mariemont and Bascoup mines, which exhibits a plan in relief of the entire operation and another plan on a larger scale, to the tenth, showing pit no. 1 at Trazègues. This is the complete installation of a mine shaft, with the extraction and dewatering machines, the ventilators, the mechanical sorting, the feldspar coal wash, the waroquère, a device for raising and lowering the miners, of which a larger model is installed next to it. Samples of the products of mining, coals of various sizes, briquettes, etc. are also on display. The exhibition of the mining school of Morlanwelz, which has no less than 600 students, is also very remarkable.

At the Quai d'Orsay we find Belgium, in the section of food products, the Remy starch factories, the exhibitions of tobacco manufacturers, the exhibitions of the great distillers of Antwerp: Nills, Bull, Raynackers, etc.

The Société des brasseurs réunis has installed a bar for tasting Belgian beers.

There is therefore a complete picture of the industrial situation of our neighbours, and seeing the similarity of the products one comes to realise the similarity of the two peoples and to wish that the bonds of friendship that bind them become even closer.

© Guide Bleu du Figaro et du Petit Journal 1889