In May 1851, the doors opened on the Great Exhibition, a celebration of British industry and international trade that spawned numerous imitations across the globe. The scale of the exhibition was immense and publishers responded quickly to the demand for catalogues, guidebooks and souvenir volumes. In a marketplace swamped with exhibition literature, Tallis' three-volume History and Description of the Crystal Palace, originally published in 1852 and reproduced here in the 1854 edition, quickly established itself as the definitive history for middle-class readers. Illustrated with high-quality steel-engraved plates of the most popular and eye-catching exhibits, Tallis' book provides a fascinating contemporary account of this cultural and commercial highlight of the Victorian age, and reveals the mind-set of a society at the peak of its imperial power. Volume 3 describes displays of machinery and the 'Ladies' Department', the close of the exhibition, and the Palace's new site in Sydenham.