French souvenir: archaeologists found a metal plate from the World's Fair in Paris

November 16

The artefact comes from the archaeological excavations in Sretenka Street. Experts found there a plate ten by five centimeters, made of a non-ferrous alloy. It has an impression of a building, as well as the inscription: Paris, Exposition Universelle.

The metal plate was brought to Moscow from the 1878 World's Fair in Paris. The building depicted on the artifact is the Trocadero Palace. It was erected in the Moorish style specially for the exhibition. It was dismantled in 1937 and the Chaillot Palace was built on the same site.

“This is an interesting artefact, actually, a souvenir from the international exhibition of scientific, technical and cultural achievements that took place 143 years ago. Our experts assume that the plate was fixed to the box or was a label for goods brought from Paris. The reverse side contains pins for fixing it. The plate will be restored. Then we will transfer it to one of Moscow museums,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, head of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department.

According to him, archaeological findings are often in Sretenka Street. For example, an extensive collection of ceramics was found there this summer. Most of the artefacts date back to the 16th–19th centuries. It is because Sretenka Street was considered to be one of the main streets in Moscow at that time. Merchants and artisans lived here; shops, pharmacies, workshops and institutions popular with Muscovites were located in Sretenka Street and in the neighboring lanes. If a foundry man, furrier, ragman (old clothes dealer) or carpenter, was needed, Muscovites went to Sretenka to find one.

The 1878 World's Fair (Exposition Universelle de 1878) was held in Paris from May 1 to November 10. France tried to restore its international prestige after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). For the event, a palace was built in the Trocadero square. In the palace, countries displayed their achievements in science, technology, art, presented their products, shared inventions and discoveries. International jury evaluated exhibits, awarding gold, silver and bronze medals.

The largest expositions were those of France and Great Britain. Among inventions on display at the World's Fair in Paris were Alexander Bell's telephone (first presented at the 1876 Philadelphia World's Fair), Felix du Temple's aluminum monoplane, megaphone and Thomas Edison's phonograph. The finished head of the Statue of Liberty was first exposed in the garden of the Trocadero Palace.

The Russian Empire pavilion was made in the Russian style by architect Ivan Ropet. A number of works were presented by the Russian Imperial Academy of Arts. Among them are paintings "Storm on Valaam" by Alexander Ginet, "Ukrainian Night" by Arkhip Kuindzhi, "Barge Haulers on the Volga" by Ilya Repin, "Repair work on the railroad" by Konstantin Savitsky. Artificial lighting at the exhibition was provided thanks to a Russian invention — Yablochkov candles. This development of electrical and military engineer Pavel Yablochkov was an electric carbon arc lamp. It was first exposed in 1876 in London, and by 1878 won consumer confidence across Europe. Electric candles were sold under the trade mark Russian Light. At least 13 million people visited the exhibition pavilions.


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