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The Great Jury was divided into numerous small juries, who examined the products and prepared lists of the names of persons whom they proposed for awards, and the proposals thus made were confirmed or rejected by higher juries.
The awards consisted chiefly of medals of different values, gold, silver, &c.
This system brought together a numerous and incongruous assembly, including unavoidably many individuals unqualified for the work.
The basis of representation was apparently fair, but its results were delusive.
A few countries Dearest the Exhibition, whose products could be collected and exposed at the smallest proportional expense, occupied large spaces ; the numerous remote countries filled smaller spaces.
The number of jurors allotted to the smaller spaces, when distributed, left them without jurors on most classes, and in the remainder with only a minority, which, in voting on awards, had no weight, and the awards were thus in effect decreed by the few contiguous countries whose products filled the largest spaces. Written reports on the products were not usually made by juries, and if made were not generally published, consequently no person outside of the jury was informed on what ground awards were made.
The medals, when distributed, were as silent as the verdicts ; moral responsibility for the decisions attached to no one, and the awards thus made conveyed as little useful information, and carried as little weight as anonymous work usually carries.
Medals, at best, are enigmas. They express nothing exactly and definitely relative to the products exhibited ; their allegorical designs doubtless have a meaning in the mind of the artist who makes them, but allegorical designs are primitive and feeble language, and the medal of to-day is no more than its predecessor, a school-boy token, -verdicts upon products determined by majority votes of juries in which the producing countries are often represented by useless minorities,--awards based upon anonymous reports, or reports never published, and final decisions announced and recorded in the vague and mystic language of medals, have not proved satisfactory to producers nor to the public. As regards the diffusion of reliable and useful information, International Exhibitions have not come fully up to expectations and to the promise implied in the great labour and great expenses which they involved, and the wide-spread dissatisfaction which has uniformly followed the close of jury-work, affords in itself strong evidence that the system is not well adapted to the purposes of International Exhibitions.
The method of awards adopted by the Centennial Commission differs from preceding systems. It dispenses with the International Jury and substitutes a body of 200 judges, one-half foreign, chosen individually for their high qualifications.
It dispenses, also, with the system of awards by graduated medals, and requires of the judges written reports on the inherent and comparative merits of each product thought worthy of an award, setting forth the properties and qualities, presenting the considerations forming the ground of the award, and avouching each report by the signature of their authors.
The professional judgment and moral responsibility of the judges being thus involved, assures the integrity of their reports. As awards to exhibitors, such reports will be more valuable than medals, in proportion to the greater amount of reliable information which they convey to the public. Their collected re-publication, as handbooks, will form valuable guides for all classes to the most advanced products of every country, and, last and least, the sales of them can hardly fail to return to the Commission a good portion of their cost.
The success of this method obviously depends on the judicious selection of the judges, and to this point I desire to call particular attention.
In this connection it may be remarked that the best judges of products are not usually found among their producers, but among their consumers.
To select a wine, for example, of particular character, one would not apply to wine-growers, but to dealers and consumers. On the merits of an engine you would prefer the opinion of the engineer who uses it, to that of the engineer who invented or made it. The sugars and coffees of Brazil, Cuba, Java, &c., are best judged in the great markets of consumption. In brief, the food products of the world find their most accurate appreciations, as regards their inherent qualities and comparative merits, in the great consuming markets, where similar products from all regions are gathered, and the practical judgment of the using and consuming public is pronounced, from which there is no appeal.
The principle in this applies not only to raw products, but in a general sense to manufacturers and to industrial products of all kinds in general use.
In this view of the subject, the method of awards adopted by the Centennial Commission presents the great advantage that it is judicial rather than representative, and the Commission is perfect free to select judges from the best sources, regardless of localities.
The men to seek for are those who, by their ability, education, character, and experience are fittest for the work, and they will be less difficult to find than to obtain, being generally employed, and frequently connected with large industries, important works, and the higher institutions to which their superior qualifications have led them.
Freedom to choose our judges from the best sources, cannot fail to produce good results if the selection be made upon proper investigation, with suitable care and without favour.
The announcements of this method of awards has been received in foreign countries, as far as heard from, with expressions of distinct approbation, and there can be no doubt that they will select and bring to us their hundred judges, who will be distinguished by their reliable and solid qualifications, and it is incumbent on us to select a body of men of character, able and expert in their respective callings, and equal in attainments and experience to our foreign co-operatives, with whom our own will be intimately associated.
I need hardly add that the useful results and success of our Exhibition and the public satisfaction which it should produce, as well as the reputation of this Commission, as practical and sensible men, depend largely on the selection of our judges, and finally upon their organisation and work.
N. M. BECKWITH.
New York, October 9th, 1875.
A suitable Committee was thereupon appointed to propose the method of proceeding to select the judges.
COPY OF LETTER FROM MR. GOSHORN ADDRESSED to COLONEL H. B. SANDFORD, R.A.,
AS TO THE NUMBER OF JUDGES FOR GREAT BRITAIN.
United States Centennial Commission,
February 9th, 1876. I HAVE the honour to advise you that in accordance with the terms of the system of awards adopted for the International Exhibition of 1876, the United States Centennial Commission has allotted to the United Kingdom and Colonies (exclusive of Canada) eighteen (18) Judges.
They should be citizens of the United Kingdom, possessing a diversity of qualifications, and especially fitted, by knowledge and experience, to judge of and report on the several subjects in the Departments to which they will be assigned.
The Judges will assemble on the 24th day of May 1876, at 12 o'clock noon, in the Hall of the Judges, and remain in continuous session until the important duties confided to them have been discharged.
You are requested to appoint and accredit persons as Judges in the following Groups of the classification, and subjects of a kindred nature.
Ceramics, Pottery, and Glass
Hardware and Edged Tools
I beg further to request that you will furnish me, as soon as possible, with the address of the persons you select, with such information as you may be able to give relative to their special qualifications for the duties that will be imposed upon them.
I am, with great consideration, yours very respectfully,
(Signed) A. I. GOSHORN,
Enclosed— Form 92. System of Awards.