Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Exhibitions - The American Exhibition, 1887

The American Exhibition in London. So far as one may be able to judge, the most effective, and certainly the most attractive, portion of the so-called American Exhibition now being held in London, is Buffalo Bill’s Wild West attachment. It may not have been so intended by the managers, and no doubt was not, but it appears to be, nevertheless, a very plain case of “the tail wagging the dog.” Respecting the exhibition proper, the technical papers have very little to say, and that little is not as complimentary as it might be. The following comments of the English correspondent of the Iron Age may speak for many others of similar tenor:
    “The American Exhibition in London exists. I have seen it myself, and, being built on George Washington lines, you may take my word for it. I went over it this afternoon as a matter of strict fact, and I make you a present of my impressions. I am greatly disappointed with it. As a circus or Buffalo Bill show it may pass muster, but as an exhibition representing the abilities and products of the United States it is simply beneath criticism. It is now a week after the official opening, yet scores—probably hundreds—of the exhibitors are not on hand, and those who have unpacked are not likely to do much credit to the great American nation. Few, if any, of your chief concerns are represented, and, indeed, I hardly know any of the firms who are present, although I claim to be well acquainted with your principal houses and products. Look through this exhibition, and one must come to the conclusion that the affair will be likely to do more harm than good to American products and industry. I heard several good-humored British criticisms to-day, and I cannot wonder that Johnny Bull softly smiles when he sees the poor display made by his much-praised American cousins. As a show, the exhibition is incalculably inferior to the Colonial, Health, or other recent exhibitions in London—indeed, it is not within measurable distance of the Canadian section alone at last year’s Colonial Exhibition. I know, of course, that it is in no sense representative, and that it is repudiated by the American nation, but the British public do not know this, and, as the show is being gushingly advertised and freely puffed, it is tolerably certain that American products will suffer in consequence. Meantime, Buffalo Bill and his dirty Indians are drawing big crowds, but I fancy that the attraction will soon pall, as the circus is not an affair one would care to visit more than once.”

Manufacturer and Builder (New York), June 1887