Friday, June 14, 2013

Paris Expo 1855: Captain Goldsmith's blue gum plank

Elizabeth Nevin's uncle, master mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith , departed Hobart Tasmania permanently in February 1856, but his entry of a blue gum plank (eucalyptus globulus) was shipped to France months prior, intended for the opening of the Paris Exposition on 15 May 1855, closing on 15 November 1855. Over five million people visited the exhibition which displayed products from 34 countries across 6 hectares (39 acres).

Exposition universelle de 1855 à Paris - Palais de l'Industrie
Restitution en 3D du Palais de l'Industrie - Film présenté lors de l'exposition au Musée des Avelines à Saint-Cloud, du 25 mars au 31 mai 2009 : "Sur les traces des Expositions universelles à Saint-Cloud".
"La France Couronnant l'Art et l'Industrie" - Groupe sculpté par Elias Robert - vestige de l'Exposition universelle de 1855 dans le Parc de Saint-Cloud.

Exposition universelle de 1855 à Paris
Opened: 15 May 1855
Closed:15 November 1855
Site: 16 hectares(39 acres)
Participating ;Countries: 34

Exposition universelle de Paris en 1855
Artist/Architect: Viel, Jean-Marie-Victor, 1796-1863
Description: Lithographs: monochrome, 1 image
Format: Lithographs
Caption: This lithograph depicts the distribution of recompenses to the exhibitors at the close of the Exposition Universelle at the Palais de l'Industrie on November 15, 1855.


The plank was 70 feet long, 11 feet wide and 3 inches thick, according to the report in the Hobart Courier, 6 September 1855.

Although the Exposition catalogue listed his plank, the report of the Hobart Courier of September 6, 1855, suggested it never left Hobart, that is, if the plank was originally cut by the Commandant of Port Arthur, James Boyd, and Captain Goldsmith was his proxy as both shipping agent and exhibitor.

Hobart Courier September 6, 1855

Blue Gum of Tasmania,- Eucalyptus globulus,
plank 70 + 11 +3 inches. Captain Goldsmith.
This is perhaps the most valuable and important of the timber trees of Tasmania. Its principal habitat is in the south side of the island ; but it is also met with in the valley of the Apsley and at the Douglas River, on the East Coast, and it re-appears upon Flinder's Island, in Bass's Straits: its stronghold, however, is D'Entrecasteaux's Channel and along the south side of the island, whence it has been exported in various shapes within the last three years to the value of about £800.000.
The Blue Gum attains, when-at maturity, an average elevation and size greater probably than any other tree in the world ; a plank forwarded to the London Exhibition of 1851, which from the difficulty experienced in procuring a ship to carry it, arrived in England too late for  exposition, measured 145 feet in length, and was 20 inches broad by 6 inches in thickness. A plank of the same width and thickness was cut 60 feet in length by Mr. James Boyd, Civil Commandant at Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land, in order to be forwarded to the Paris Exhibition of 1855, but it has been found impracticable to get it shipped by any vessel at this port, (Hobart Town), and it does not therefore appear in this catalogue.
This tree attains at its full growth a height of 250 to 350 feet, and a circumference varying from 30 to upwards of 100 feet, at four feet from the ground. In regular forest ground it rarely gives off its principal limb under 100 feet, and there is not unfrequently a stem clear of any branch for 200 foot and upwards. The most important purpose for which this timber is adapted, and to which it is extensively applied, is that of ship-building. The Messrs. Degraves and Messrs. Watson of this place have built and fitted out vessels with it of which several are now trading regularly to and from England. Its specific gravity is greater than that of  Teak, British Oak, or even Saull; and experiments instituted to ascertain its breaking weight &;c., have  established the fact, that in strength and elasticity it is superior to all other timbers. For planking and stringers, and for keels of ships, the blue gum possesses a suitability beyond all other timbers, since it affords length and dimensions which it would be impossible to obtain from any other tree.
The purposes to which the wood of the blue gum is applied are as numerous as the varieties of work which devolve on the shipwright, millwright, house carpenter, implement-maker, and engineer, for in all these departments of mechanical labour and skill it is found to be a material all but indispensable, notwithstanding the great diversity of woods available in the Colony. For instance, it is in constant use for tree-nails in ship-building, - as gunwales for boats,- for house-building. for fitting up steam engines and the heaviest machinery,- in the construction of wheels, wheelbarrows, carts. &c, and for piles on which to raise wharves ; bridges of great span are built of it, -that at Bridgewater, about II miles from Hobart Town, of which a model was sent to the London Exhibition. and which is raised upon piles measuring 65 to 90 feet each in length, stands 9 feet above the highest high watermark, and measures 96 feet from end to end, by a breadth affording a roadway of 24 feet, is constructed entirely of this timber. This tree, like most of the Eucalypti, yields a red, highly astringent gum, which has been extensively used,and found to answer, as a "kino," and the leaves by distillation yield an essential oil, having the properties of "Cajeput oil.

Stereo of the blue gum bridge at Bridgewater
Attributed to Morton Allport 1860s
TAHO Ref: 17AUTAS001126184597

... bridges of great span are built of it, -that at Bridgewater, about II miles from Hobart Town, of which a model was sent to the London Exhibition. and which is raised upon piles measuring 65 to 90 feet each in length, stands 9 feet above the highest high watermark, and measures 96 feet from end to end, by a breadth affording a roadway of 24 feet, is constructed entirely of this timber....
The Tasmanian Executive won two awards at the Paris Expo 1855:

1,2 Paris Exhibition 1855
RS.157  I
Certificate of award of 2nd class medal to Tasmanian Executive
for (1) wood turned objects and furniture and (2) wood carvings,
signed by Napoleon Bonaparte
(80 cm. x eQ cm.) (Royal Society of Tasmania, UTas ePrints)

State Library of Tasmania
Blue gum camp and coupe ca. 1870
ADRI: AUTAS001126185776; AUTAS001126185636
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

The Harriet McGregor, 332 tons, was built at the Domain shipyard by Alexander McGregor in 1871, and named after his wife, the former Harriet Bayley. It was the most renowned of the blue-gum clippers that made 24 voyages from Hobart to London and back as well as trading on intercolonial and Mauritian routes until sold in 1895 to Danish owners, renamed Water Queen, and destroyed soon after by fire at Rio.

Title: HARRIET MCGREGOR [picture]
Author/Creator: Allan C. Green 1878-1954
Date(s): [ca. 1900-ca. 1954]
Description: 2 negatives : glass ; each 12.1 x 16.6 cm. (half plate)
Identifier(s): Accession no(s) H91.250/130; H91.250/131
Subjects: Harriet McGregor (Ship) ; Barks (Sailing ships)
Notes: Copy of earlier negative.
Link to digitised item:

Another use for the Tasmanian blue gum was the manufacture of soap from the fresh green leaves. This advertisement ca. 1900 by New York soap company HYOMEI stressed the benefits to both mother and child.

On board the "City of Hobart" 31st January 1872