Grand Prix, Exposition universelle, Paris 1867

Framework with medals
250 x 200 mm
Historical archives of INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Rome, Monte Porzio Catone (Rome)

The decision to exhibit the meteorograph at the Champs de Mars in Paris for the Universal Exposition of 1867 as a representation of the Papal States, proved to be a success. The instrument, in fact, with its impressive functioning, was one of the major attractions for the public.
The appreciation for the meteorograph was underlined by the jury with the Grand Prix award, prestigious award accorded to the most innovative works of the exhibition, as testimony to the progress of research and technology.
The request to award the Meteorographer, although advocated by the very erudite president of the V group, Senator Elie de Beaumont, was not accepted at first. Against the request was the postulate that the machine containing the barometer, the thermometer, the hydrometer, the rain gauge and the anemometer did not showed any invention nor discovery, and that if it was valuable for science, it had no direct application to the industry.
The chemist and politician Jean-Baptiste Dumas, however, remarked the importance of automatic recording, as a practical and economical way of observation, without the constant presence of staff. Once that the merits of the accuracy, of the economy, of the exportability of the metereograph were outlined, with the comparison of the astronomical observatories established for each maritime coasts, in service of the navigation, the Grand Prix was conferred.
The apparatus conceived by Secchi, which has been operating regularly for more than seven years at the Collegio Romano, was judged as the most complete of those exhibited until that moment, capable of automatically record atmospheric phenomena. With the use of these tools, meteorological science would provide short-term information on the displacement of storms, making the weather forecasts rely on certain data and precise rules.
Together with the Grand Prix, Secchi received other awards as well as a cash prize of six thousand Francs.

Maria Carmen Beltrano, CREA-AA

Bibliography
Giornale di viaggio di Angelo Secchi, Archivio Pontificia Università Gregoriana; E. Brassart, Descrizione del Meteorografo-Secchi modificato da Ermanno Brassart, (Roma: Tipografia di Giovanni Polizzi e C°, 1872);
“La météorologie et le Météorographe du P. Secchi, S.J. à l’Exposition Universelle », Extrait des Etudes religieuses, historiques et litteraires (Paris : Gauthier-Villars, 1867);
L’exposition universelle de 1867 illustrée, pag 442-445;
Relazioni dei Giurati italiani sulla esposizione universale del 1867, Volume 2 (Firenze: Stabilimento G. Pellas, 1869), pag. 153.