The Great Exhibition of 1851

Württemberg Section

Württemberg section: official catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations, 1851

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The Württemberg section of the Great Exhibition housed a total of one hundred and ten artifacts, varying from the beloved stuffed animals from Zollverein to confectionary lozenges and everything in-between. The Württemberg Section Official Catalogue is a record of all the artifacts included in that section of the exhibition. It includes a brief description of each artifact, an alphabetical index, and a priced list showing the cost of each artifact.

The priced list is a unique feature of this catalogue. The Great Exhibition displayed thousands of artifacts, however these artifacts are not often spoken of as purchasable goods. These goods however are priced well above the few shillings the average souvenir ran exhibition-goers. The possibility of the purchase of items from at least the Württemberg section of the Exhibition is yet another reason most souvenirs were not re-creations of the artifacts themselves. Instead most souvenirs, like the Württemberg Section Official Catalogue itself, commemorated the experience of the Great Exhibition.

Here is an example of the description, indexing, and pricing of artifact 107-the stuffed animal collection that inspired The Comical Creatures from Württemberg. Below is the brief description the catalogue gives for the animals:

 “Groups of stuffed animals and birds. A stag-hunt. Boar-baiting. Nests of birds of prey. Hawks pouncing upon owls,&c. Groups of domestic birds and their young, &c.” 

The indexing was ordered alphabetically by the name of the creator, so artifact 107 can be found listed under “Plouequet, H”. Each item is also given a class to show its relationship to other artifacts in the section. The stuffed animals are listed under Class XXX. Sculpture-models and plastic art, under the Fine Arts Section. Other artifacts in this same class included sculptures, ornate painted tables, and plastic models.

The priced list for artifact 107 is fifty items long and lists the cost of each scene Plouequet crafted for the exhibition. In the introduction to the priced list, the author explains “The Württemberg products are generally distinguished for their cheapness, wages being very low in that country”.  The most expensive scene, depicting a stag being caught by five hounds, was priced at 180 pounds. The least expensive was a scene containing two frogs, which cost only ten shillings.  The average working class salary (according to Dr. Bruce Rosen, Honorary Research Associate in the School of History and Classics at the University of Tasmania) was around 6-12 shillings a week, with an annual income of around thirty pounds. 

Württemberg Section