Neonatology on the Web

Marseille Exposition Internationale d’Électricité 1908

Marseille Exposition Internationale d’Électricité 1908

The Exposition Internationale d’Électricité was an exhibition held in Marseille from April to October of 1908. The exhibition was loosely associated with a series of meetings of international electrical congresses that occurred between 1881 and roughly 1915, with the goal of standardizing units and terminology. Ironically, the most famous thing to come out of the 1908 exhibition was a poster by David Dellepiane (above), which is found today on many auction and art sites.

The 1908 Exposition in Marseille included an exhibition of incubators and human babies by Alexandre Lion. Dr. Lion operated storefront “institutes” with incubators and human babies in several cities in France and even New York, and also had incubator pavilions at many international exhibitions in both Europe and the United States around the turn of the century. Lion’s pavilion is just to the right of the Patisserie on the corner, you can see a sign on the rooftop.

The Exposition catalog contained an enthusiastic and flowery description of Dr. Lion’s incubator on p. 158.

“The Couveuse

“The work of incubators is not only a philanthropic work, worthy of the most benevolent interest because it is eminently charitable. It is also a scientific work which, as such, had the right of citizenship in the current Exhibition.

“Isn’t the latest progress in the incubator just one application, beneficent among many others, of Electricity, that adorable fairy that is decidedly as good as it is beautiful?

“These little infants so cute, so delicate resting in their tiny crystal houses, like delicious jewels in transparent cases, these frail creatures, whose life is only a breath at the mercy of the slightest imprudence, the slightest forgetfulness, fortunately have a vigilant guard who never sleeps on duty: Electricity watches over them with jealous care to ensure that the temperature of the small room is adequate for their needs. If this temperature changes, it automatically activates an indicator — a needle moving between two contacts close to each other. The slightest variation in heat, either more or less, closes the contact and activates the alarm bell.

“A dreamed-of cordon bleu, a docile and well-styled maid, here is the excellent Fairy [Electricity] transformed into an accomplished dry nurse, perfect in her new function as in all those that we have asked her to fulfill.”

Last Updated on 01/02/23