The opening of the Panama Canal (the world's largest and most expensive building project to that date) was the primary reason for the Pan Pacific International Exposition (PPIE). It is not possible to overestimate the importance of the canal to the United States and particularly California. The Panama Canal was an engineering marvel which significantly shortened the distance (by almost 8000 miles), length of time and safety required to transport goods and people by sea from the eastern United States and was a major impetus to the development of trade routes.
Teddy Roosevelt was the first sitting president to leave the country while in office, and his trip was to visit the construction of this canal.
There was a concurrent exposition in San Diego, but it was not as large or lavish as the San Francisco expo. Spoons from the San Diego expo are shown after the San Francisco spoons.
Some Panama Canal spoons are shown near the bottom of this exhibit.
The "state animal" for California is the bear which is why it is frequently seen on California spoons.
President William H. Taft used a shovel made out of gold to start the building project for this fair. That golden shovel is now in a museum in San Francisco, California.
The Shreve silver manufacturing company which made
the shovel also made these
exact miniature vermeil replicas for sale as souvenirs.
The Presidential seal is at the handle and the inscription reads:
"used by William Howard Taft, President of the United States, October 14, 1911-in turning the first spadeful of earth for the Panama Pacific International Exposition to be held in San Francisco, 1915"
The fair insignia (left) and cutout date spoons
The background photo's are from the "official souvenir pictorial book". The spoons are placed on the photo per the design in the bowls.
Palace of Horticulture
embossed bowls of the Palace of Horticulture
An extraordinary spoon featuring the Tower of Jewels in a cutout handle. Note the very tiny red, white and blue stones in the tower. These are actual rubies, diamonds and sapphires. (They are very small in reality)
Tower of Jewels ( Fine Arts cutout in handle)
embossed bowl Tower of Jewels and Palace of Fine Arts handle
The Jeweled tower, 1915, San Francisco
A cutout version of the jeweled tower finial and noting it as being 420' high. The bowl is a nice embossed view of the Fine Arts Palace
California Building (Administration) and view of the Golden Gate on handle
Cutout skyline handle of the famous buildings
Embossed bowl of the Golden Gate harbor featuring the fair grounds
Birds eye view of the fairgrounds
This full sized tea features a bear standing on top of the globe with the "PPIE" insignia below. Hidden in the design are ships crossing the Panama canal and horns of plenty. The back of the globe shows an interesting fantasy version of an angel. The State Capitol building in Sacramento is embossed in the bowl.
San Diego also hosted a smaller version of the Pan-Pacific Fair.
California Building -- Entrance to Balboa Park (location of fair)
Father Serra graces the handle of this fair spoon
the main fair building
Apparently these buildings were also used for the "America's Exposition" in 1935. I have the right picture above on a demi spoon which is engraved with this information on the back. I suppose the manufacturer just re-used the dies rather than spending money on new dies.
Panama Canal, Bowl eng "San Diego 1915"
I found an American made spoon about the Panama Canal. This is one of those spoons with lots of small pictures on both the front and back. I have enlarged three of the six pictures for you. I do not believe that this spoon is from the Pan Pacific Expo, but it was probably a souvenir from someone's trip through the canal.
left: front of handle
right: the Culebra Cut was the most extensive earth moving project in history and was the most important part of the canal.
left: lock gates--These were the most sophisticated water gating system in the world and were in use for over 65 years.
right: steam shovel--New types of super large and strong steam shovels were created for this project. The largest was able to load 4 tons of dirt with each grabbing action (filling an entire railroad car). These were the largest and most sophisticated steam shovels in the world at that time.
Common Silver plated demi from the Pan Pacific fair.Visit the Los Angeles PPIE spoon for the New Broadway Department Store
Return to the World Fair exhibit