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Exposition Industrielle de Reims, 1903

Exposition Industrielle de Reims, 1903

The Industrial Exposition of Reims [‘l’Exposition Industrielle de Reims] was held from May 15 to September 6, 1903 in an area that today corresponds to the Hautes-Promenades, the Porte Mars, and the Boulingrin Halls. It required 5 months of preparation, and had more than 1200 exhibitors and 300,000 paid admissions during it’s 4 months of public access. Most of the buildings were prefabricated, and many of them had been used the previous year in another exposition in Lille. The organizer was Jean-Alfred Vigé, who was the promoter of many regional expositions from 1899 to 1913.

Although I have not been able to find any pictures or souvenir postcards as yet, we know that Alexandre Lion had an incubator exhibit at Reims, and it was discussed in contemporary news accounts.

Infant Incubators

In these little glass cages, little human dolls sleep, poor beings faced with the difficulties of life outside at an age when the other children of men have not yet been born in the light and hide their punyness in the maternal abdomen.
The work of the incubators is most humane; its object is the free upbringing of children born before term and whose constitution is too imperfect to be able to resist variations in atmospheric temperature under ordinary conditions.
This work, which was founded by Mr. Alexandre Lion, has already obtained very good results: whereas before the incubator, the mortality rate for children born before term was 75 percent, today it is only around 25 percent and is improving every day.
In our era of depopulation, the results of the work of the incubators are perhaps more important than ever, as Doctor Vallin said in his report to the Paris Academy of Medicine:
“Since the number of children born is decreasing, let us at least try to save them all and raise them for the Fatherland.”
Here is the description of an incubator as I borrowed it from the little blue book put up for sale at the exhibition of the work:

The Lion Incubator consists of a metal parallelipiped mounted on an iron support.
It can be disinfected without damage by steam oven or with chemical disinfection. Its ventilation is ensured by a tube 8 centimeters in diameter opening at the base of the device and by a chimney of the same diameter. A propeller placed at its top indicates, by its rotation, the strength of the air current.
The front face of the Incubator is equipped with a glass frame with two leaves, with locking bolt. On the left side another glass frame can be opened, allowing the mother or the guard to follow the movements of the child and to take it out if necessary, the device being placed next to the mother’s bed.
The bottom slides and is removed, sliding in its grooves, like the board of a bird’s cage.
Placed in the middle of the Couveuse on a metal canvas hammock, the child is isolated from all sides, and the hot air can circulate freely around him. A themometer, placed at the height of his head, makes it possible to check the status of the apparatus.
Heating is provided by circulating hot water in a coil communicating with a tank placed next to it. This thermosiphon can be heated either by gas, oil, electricity or by any other means of heating.
A special pipe allows the outside air, which is purer than the air in the apartments and rooms, to bring it directly to the incubator, and filter it in addition before it enters the incubator, and to lead it outside. through a chimney.
By these arrangements, the air can be augmented, according to doctor’s instructions, with medicinal gases: oxygen, ozone, balsamic essences of pine, eucalyptus, fir buds, etc.
In addition, the dangers that may result from an conglomeration of substances are eliminated.
A regulator transmits the movements of the temperature to a lever and increases or decreases, according to need, the force of the current of heat.
Thus, constant regulation of the temperature is ensured automatically.

The incubators form an interesting pavilion at the Exhibition to visit. Four little babies are there, one of whom was born at only six and a half months and is barely a month in the incubator. The other three children (two boys and a girl) are from the same mother who only carried them for eight months: in the warm and constant temperature of the device, the poor little ones gradually regain strength and life and we see that their clenched little hands seem to be attached to the invisible threads of existence.
Clipping from L’Independent Remois, June 11, 1903.

Last Updated on 02/26/23