Jamaica International Exhibition

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1891 Kingston
Jamaica International Exhibition hall.jpg
The Jamaica International Exhibition building
BIE-class Unrecognized exposition
Visitors 302,831
Country Jamaica
City Kingston
Coordinates 17°59′19″N 76°47′16″W / 17.9885°N 76.7877°W / 17.9885; -76.7877Coordinates: 17°59′19″N 76°47′16″W / 17.9885°N 76.7877°W / 17.9885; -76.7877
Opening 27 January 1891
Closure 2 May 1891
Exhibition plan.
Inside the exhibition.
The exhibition medal in silver-plated brass.

The Jamaica International Exhibition was held in Kingston, Jamaica, from 27 January 1891 to 2 May 1891. It was modelled on the London Great Exhibition of 1851 and was the idea of Augustus Constantine Sinclair who ran the Government Printing Office in Jamaica.


In the 1880s, Jamaica's economy was in decline. Sugar exports were only a quarter of what they had been the start of the century, and the banana export business was in its infancy. There was a great need to promote Jamaican products to the world and attract investment to the island.[1]

The idea to hold an international exhibition to promote Jamaican industry similar to the 1851 Great Exhibition in London is generally credited to Augustus Constantine Sinclair, head of the Government Printing Office in Jamaica, with subsequent support from William Fawcett, director of gardens and chairman of the Institute of Jamaica.[1] For many years, they were unable to drum up sufficient support for the project, but in 1889 Sir Henry Blake arrived as the new governor of Jamaica and gave the idea his blessing.[2]

The exhibition[edit]

The exhibition was funded by a £1,000 grant from the British government and loans from the Jamaican government which were guaranteed by locals in case the exhibition failed. Louis Verley, George Stiebel, and Colonel Charles Ward, between them guaranteed about half the cost.[1]

The exhibition opened on 27 January 1891.[3]

A special medal was produced for the event, showing Queen Victoria on one side and the exhibition hall on the other.[2] Versions were minted in silver-plated brass[4] and gold.[5]

The exhibition closed on 2 May 1891 after receiving 302,831 visitors.[3] Despite the high levels of attendance, the exhibition made a loss, resulting in those that had given guarantees being required to provide nearly £30,000 to make up the shortfall.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Jamaica International Exhibition, 1891. Joy Lumsden. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b Pieces of the Past. The Great Exhibition of 1891: Jamaica on Show. Jamaica Gleaner, 14 January 2002. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b The Great Exhibition of 1891 and the birth of Jamaica's hotel industry. Merrick Needham, Jamaica Observer, 1 February 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  4. ^ Jamaica, silver-plated brass International Exhibition medal, 1891, Queen Victoria. 32.1 grams. Bold. icollector.com Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  5. ^ Lot 3000. the saleroom Retrieved 18 January 2017.

External links[edit]