Folding telescopic paper peepshow depicting the 1851 Great Exhibition held at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, printed in lithography with hand colouring. Pictorial card covers with eight illustrated cut-out sections in between, joined with linen sides in folding concertina style, with illustrated rear panel (ten illustrated sections in total). The upper cover with a hole through which to view the scene, continuing through the eight internal sections. Each section 17.5 x 16 cm, extending to c. 65 cm in length. The central fountain still retaining its original glitter, which serves to represent the tumbling water. A very good example, the covers with a little rubbing and browning; the contents with some minor toning and the occasional mark are otherwise excellent, free from any loss and with the colours remaining bright.
The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the first international exhibition of manufactured goods; it marked the beginning of an ongoing series of World's Fairs, showcasing culture and industry, which became popular during the second half of the nineteenth century. Organised by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, it was held in the purpose-built Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, and met with great public success, with millions of tickets sold and many famous figures in attendance (including Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Michael Faraday, Charlotte Brontė, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, Alfred Tennyson and William Makepeace Thackeray). The Exhibition spurred great international interest, and became the topic of a large variety of souvenirs, including many optical toys. Indeed, the Exhibition was one of the two most popular subjects of the paper peepshow in the nineteenth century, the other being the Thames Tunnel. The present example is one of the best-known of these Exhibition souvenirs and wonderfully captures, in miniature, a sweeping view of the grand spectacle, enabling visitors to take home a memento of what would have been a most remarkable experience. (Gestetner 255).
Stock code: 20645