NY CRYSTAL PALACE-Perhaps the Only Book-Length Catalog to the 1853 Expo in Private Hands #S213

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NY CRYSTAL PALACE-Perhaps the Only Book-Length Catalog to the 1853 Expo in Private Hands #S213

I am quite sure copies of this incredibly large and detailed catalog/guide to the 1853 world’s fair must exist in museums or libraries and perhaps hidden away in some corner of a private library. But I have never seen another, and while what I have seen isn’t gospel, it is a very good barometer of what’s out there. Since 1979 as a seller and even longer as a collector I’ve hunted for historical material from all world’s fairs. While the bulk of my research and writing has centered on the 1893 Chicago Exposition as well as my hometown 1962 Century 21 Exposition, that still left a rather considerable amount of time to hunt for history, souvenirs and collectibles from EVERY historical world’s fair.

As a historian even more than a collector I have found the two Crystal Palaces extremely interesting. That Prince Albert chose to sponsor and promote an international event and declare it a “world’s fair” so long ago is a testament to his foresight. And who would be surprised that New Yorkers had to do it on their own immediately after. New York’s Crystal Palace may have been second, but it is significant that it was nearly a quarter century before this country saw another world’s fair, and they took place many times in Europe before out Centennial

I consider this book-length guide to the 1853 world’s fair a genuine treasure for the world’s fair collector and/or historian. It probably provides several times the knowledge most collectors have about the fair. Such publications are the backbone of historical research and context—the who, what, when, why, where…..exhibits, exhibitors, commercial and governmental.

The book is in excellent condition regarding readability and lack of any missing components, but it is 168 years old and paperbound, intended to be used rather than saved. I would not put it on a bookshelf where the already tired covers and edges could get more worn. It would best be housed in a book box as are often made for rare manuscripts and books. It needn’t be fancy or expensive. Any sturdy protective box will do but if you agree that this book is quite a treasure you might consider visiting an antiquarian bookstore near you (if you are the buyer!) and finding out about a quality box to house it.

As I hope you can see at least briefly in the photos, this is simply a goldmine of information and far larger and inclusive than one would expect for the period. Even as a specialist in the World’s Columbian Expo and a seller, I found it difficult to put this book up for sale. I constantly have to remind myself that my acquisitions are for sale, but this one was more difficult to let go than most.