HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT ANTIQUES OR COLLECTIBLES?

Send me an E-mail
(Please, no questions
 about value.)

Instructions for sending photographs of your pieces with your question.

Who was the person credited with the concept of a world's fair?

Queen Victoria
Robert Moses
Prince Albert
                     To see the answer

World's Fair
by E.L. Doctorow


This novel tells the story of Edgar Altshuler, a 9-year-old boy from the Bronx, and his adventures at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. On his first visit to the fair, Edgar is enthralled by industry's vision of the futuresafe, secure and prosperous cities, speedy and cheap transportation and modern invention to make life easier. On his second visit, he sees that the exhibits are constructed of gypsum whose paint is peeling and that the displays are really toys.
                                   
More Books

 WATCH VIDEOS

1964 NY World's Fair

Travel back in time to the 1964 New York World's Fair and take a tour of the fairgrounds. Though not sanctioned by the World's Fair Committee, it was still a spectacular exposition.
              
And look for other videos in selected articles.

Have Bob speak
 on antiques to your group or organization.

More Information

Can't find what
 you're looking for?

Go to our Sitemap

Find out what's coming in the
2020 Fall Edition

of the
THE ANTIQUES ALMANAC

"A Look at Retro"

COMING IN
October
 

Share pages of this ezine with your friends using the buttons provided with each article.


Download our
Decorative Periods and Styles Chart
 

Read our newest glossary:

Antique Furniture Terminology
 from A to Z

courtesy of AntiquesWorldUK

Videos have
come to


The Antiques
Almanac

Expand your antiques experience.

Look for videos
in various
articles.

Just click on the
arrow to play.

Featured Antique


1939 NY World's Fair Snowglobe
 

Mementos of the Future
by Bob Brooke

 


Options are endless when it comes to worlds fair collectibles. Since the 1850s there have been over 100 world’s fairs. While souvenirs of the earliest fairs are difficult to find, there are plenty from the fairs of the 1890s onward. As fairs evolved into the 20th century, they produced thousands of items—many produced as souvenirs and others as part of the fair infrastructure.

When it comes to World’s Fair collectibles, some of the most popular World’s Fairs were: London in 1851, Paris in 1855 and 1889, Philadelphia in 1876, Chicago in 1893, St. Louis in 1904, San Francisco in 1915, New York in 1939 and 1964, Seattle in 1962, and Montreal in 1967.

The first world’s fair recognized by the Bureau of International Expositions was the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in and around a glass structure called the Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park. Thirty-two countries participated in the almost six-month-long event, which attracted more than six million visitors. Few souvenirs of that event remain.

The United States hosted its first official exposition in 1876 to mark the country’s centennial. Held in Philadelphia, the Centennial Exposition offered visitors all sorts of keepsakes, from inkwells and sewing boxes to metal Liberty Bell paperweights and stereoviews of everything from Tiffany vases to the steel turret salvaged from the famous Civil War vessel "The Monitor."

Toward the end of the century, Chicago hosted a second U.S. exposition in1893. Called the Columbian World’s Fair, the spectacle celebrated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World. In addition to the china, glassware, prints, postcards, badges, medals, and charms produced for the Fair, collectors of world’s fair memorabilia seek out the official U.S. coins minted prior to the event as a fundraiser for it.

Paris held its third major world’s fair in 1900, located around the Eiffel Tower, as was the previous fair. Souvenir plates depicted guests from all over the world attending the fair and the structures built for it, as well as lists of scheduled events, such as a performance by Sarah Bernhardt. Visitors could also take home souvenir photo portfolios, postcards, and stereoviews of the fairgrounds. American the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901, came coins, pinbacks, and shot glasses.

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, held in St. Louis in 1904, offered the usual array of ceramic plates and glass and metal cups to visitors, and it gained greater notoriety in 1944 when “Meet Me in St. Louis,” starring Judy Garland, hit movie theaters. In 1909, Seattle hosted its first world’s fair when the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition was held on what is now the campus of the University of Washington. Tourists took home Staffordshire plates, aluminum cigar holders, and beribboned pinbacks.

The end of the 1930s witnessed probably the greatest world’s fair of the 20th century in New York. The “World of Tomorrow” was an icon of late-Great Depression optimism, symbolized by the 700-foot-tall Trylon and its adjacent 200-foot-diameter Perisphere, which housed a miniature city of the future dubbed “Democracity.” Fiesta made plates depicting a potter at his wheel, there were numerous types of hand-painted Nippon ware to choose from, and there were even knockoffs of Wedgwood and Lalique. RCA made a commemorative radio, Remington did the same with a portable typewriter, and Macy’s sold Dutch Girl dolls. Lighters, compacts, and ashtrays were also popular, as were coins, pins, buttons, badges, and pocket knives.

Of the four world’s fairs held in North America in the 1960s—The Century 21 Exposition in Seattle in 1962, a second world’s fair in New York in 1964, Expo 67 in Montreal in 1967, and HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio in 1968—the expos in Seattle and Montreal left the biggest marks. The image of Seattle’s Space Needle can be found on stamps, medals, plates, glasses, spoons, lamps, and pens.

One of the most popular souvenirs of worlds fairs in the late 19th and early 20th century was the souvenir glass cream pitcher. Most pitchers from fairs of that era were mass-produced glass mini pitchers in a variety of shapes. Vendors sold them from small kiosks or stands. Fairgoers could have their pitchers engraved with the name of the fair and date in script while they waited. The pressed glass pitchers had molded crystal lower halves with ruby flashing of glass at top.

The flashed glass pitcher was the most popular souvenir of the day. Cheap and attractive, the form could be found at just about any public gathering. Today, depending on condition and script, they sell for $15-$45. Ceramic pitchers, on the other hand, were more expensive at the fairs, so fewer are available to collectors.

The 1933-1934 Chicago Century of Progress fair remains one of the most collected of all World's Fairs. Just about everyone who entered the lakefront site had to bring something home. Fairgoers bought all sorts of items, from parasols to trays to souvenir spoons to posters.

What to Look For
Some valuable World’s Fair collectibles include: an admission ticket to the Centennial Expo held in Philadelphia in 1876, ferris wheel toys from the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago where George Ferris’ famous amusement ride debuted, an Ingersoll pocket watch with the Cascades pictured on the dial from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis, a ruby glass cut to clear souvenir cup with the city and year of the World’s Fair embossed on the surface, a Jim Beam bottle in the shape of the landmark Space Needle which was erected for the World’s Fair held in Seattle, Washington in 1962, and the World’s Fair board game highlighting the famous Perisphere and other attractions of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.

Obviously, collector seek out the most valuable World’s Fair items which highlight the most famous features of a particular World’s Fair. Objects that recall the immense project of the fairgrounds and important landmarks that debuted at the fair like the Eiffel Tower and such are most desirable on the collectibles market for a few hundred dollars to several tens of thousands of dollars.



Beginning collectors should look for unique, unusual, hard to come by, or exotic World’s Fair collectibles first introduced at a specific World’s Fair like ice cream cone advertisements, Tiffany stained glass lamps, Eiffel Tower snow globes, etc. They also collect those World’s Fair collectibles that feature a specific host city or focus on a particular innovation or specialty attraction.

< Back to Collectibles Archives                                          Next Article >  

FOLLOW MY WEEKLY BLOG
Antiques Q&A


JOIN MY COLLECTION
Antiques and More on
Facebook

LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE
The Antiques Almanac on Facebook

No antiques or collectibles
are sold on this site.

How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

Book: How to Recognizing and Refinishing Antiques for Pleasure and Profit
Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

Read an Excerpt

Auction News
Get up to the minute news of antiques auctions around the country and the world.

Also see
The Auction Directory

Antiques News
Read breaking news stories from the world of antiques and collectibles.

Art Exhibitions
Search for art exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world.

Home | About This Site | Antiques | Collectibles | Antique Tips | Book Shop | Antique Trivia | Antique Spotlight | Antiques News  Special Features | Caring for Your Collections | Collecting | Readers Ask | Antiques Glossaries | Resources | Contact
Copyright ©2007-2019 by Bob Brooke Communications
Site design and development by BBC Web Services