World fairs were designed to show the best in human achievements. Major exhibitions of arts, business, agriculture, humanities, cultures and customs were highlighted in large cities. The study of these intriguing events is a topic onto itself. Many beautiful souvenir spoons were designed for some of these magnificent events.
The Chicago world fair was precedent setting. It established a pattern for all future world fairs and contributed immeasurably to the future direction of this country and the world. You will be surprised by the number of things which we take for granted today that were first highlighted by this world fair.
The 1893 Columbian World Fair in Chicago was one of the major impetuses for the collecting of silver souvenir spoons. In 1892, the fantastic "great white city" opened amid economic devastation in an economy that was described as a "monetary panic". Yet it is estimated that more varieties of souvenir spoons were created for this fair than for any other single event in history.
Because so many spoons were created for this world fair, I have created a separate series of exhibition spoons.
Click to see the Columbian World Fair Spoon exhibits
A number of other major expositions and more localized fairs were held and souvenir spoons were created for each of these events. The pieces shown here are not meant to be exhaustive, but merely to show some of the tremendous variety of spoons that are available to spoon and exposition collectors.
The California Mid-Winter Fair was held in San Francisco in 1894
Hand made spoon from San Francisco, 1894 with a bear embossed bowl
Click to see the California Mid Winter Fair exhibit
Atlanta, Georgia 1895-96
The Cotton States Exposition was a little expo held in Atlanta in 1896. There are very few spoons from this expo.
This "king cotton" enamel spoon is the nicest one from this expo. It is available in tea and demi size
right: silver plated symbols from the fair, bowl pictures the cotton palace
One of the most remembered events from this world fair was a speech made by Booker T. Washington.. This brilliant speech may be read here
Silver plated advertising spoon from the small Trans
Mississippi expo held
in Omaha in 1898
This spoon is advertising Fleischmann & Co. yeast
A Scottish Thistle adorns this Paris expo spoon
The Pont Alexandrie was a marvelously decorated bridge built for this exposition
buffalo symbol from the fair (rebus)
These are the "Official Louisiana Purchase Expo Spoons". So many varieties of spoons were made for the Columbus expo that the organizers tried to monopolize the production of this souvenir. As we shall see--they were not successful. Note that these spoons have almost the same handle design (1803-buffalo hunter-covered wagon and campfires, train- 1903).
Click to see the entire St. Louis World Fair Expo Exhibit
The "Lewis and Clark" expo in Portland, Oregon in 1904/ 1905 was to celebrate the achievement of these western pioneers. A number of different spoons were created for this fair.
Symbol of the fair (plated)
The one pictured here is made out of copper (even though it is clearly marked sterling). The Front shows portraits of Lewis and Clark, a monument to them and the Oltnomah Falls and the back has various symbols for the home city of Portland. The bowl shows a statue of Sacajawea, the Indian maiden who guided the exploration party including the baby which she bore on the trip. Note: the new U.S. Sacajawea (Sacagawea) golden dollar is based upon this Indian guide.
This silver plated spoon purports to show the Grant log cabin which was owned by G.F.Blanne. The handle shows Teddy Roosevelt with his gun
On the left the spoon is marked "world fair 1904"
A nicely engraved bowl showing their indian guide Sacajawea with her arms around Lewis and Clark watching the setting sun over the Pacific Ocean
The Alaska Yukon Purchase Exhibition of Seattle, Washington 1909 produced a number of very interesting spoons.
A separate exhibit has been set up to show these and other gold spoons from Alaska. Click here to see the AYPE exhibit spoons.
Souvenir Spoon made by Tiffany & Co. to celebrate the 1909 Hudson-Fulton Celebration
The stem pictures Hudson's ship the "Half Moon" ("de Haelve Maene") which first explored the Hudson river in 1609. Below that is pictured the New York seal and below that is a laurel wreath
The bowl pictures Fulton's steamboat the "Clermont" 1807
Some of these spoons may be later restrikes.
Click for more information on Hudson and Fulton (short diversion)
The 1915 San Francisco-Panama Canal exposition was a major exposition to honor the opening of the Panama Canal and celebrate the "riches" of California. A variety of spoons are available from this magnificent exposition and the similar (but smaller) San Diego exposition. The spoons for this fair have been expanded and combined with Panama Canal spoons and placed in a separate exhibit. Click the links to see these beautiful and interesting spoons.
Click to visit the Pan-Pacific International Exposition exhibit San Francisco (PPIE)
Click to visit the Pan Pacific International Exposition exhibit San Diego
PHILADELPHIA SESQUI-CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION (1926)
A world fair held in Philadelphia to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence
This was a much smaller event and this is the only spoon from this event that I know about
Silver plated spoon by Roger Bros.
Chicago "a Century of Progress"
In the depths of the Great Depression, Chicago tried to recreate the great success of the earlier Columbian World Fair of 1893. They were not entirely successful, but were able to stage a presentable world fair.
Click to see Chicago "Century of Progress" spoon exhibit
This "futuristic" Fair opened in New York City just prior to the beginning of World War ll.
The spoons shown here are the Official spoons for the Seattle World's Fair and were patented in 1961.
These are the only two official sterling spoons that I know about from this fair. The space needle (left) is a well known landmark. The second spoon (front and back) shows various images from the 1962 world fair
The vermeil bowl is engraved "World Fair Seattle 1962" The totem pole handle is from an old die ca. 1900. The quality of the enamel work is not nearly as good as it should be.
This silver plated demi is the only souvenir spoon from this fair of which I am aware.
Some cities built exposition buildings to attract smaller trade shows. Sometimes these buildings were of significant interest to justify the production of a few spoons. These are usually hand engraved in small lots.
Kansas city spoons are readily available.
Minneapolis spoons are rarer
In 1876 the Centennial Exhibition was held in Philadelphia. This was fifteen years before the start of the Souvenir Spoon Movement in the United States and at the very inception of the Art Nuevo period. I have a very unusual spoon which I believe dates to this exhibition. If you would like to see it click Queen Victoria.
Many other world fair spoons and other types of souvenirs are avidly collected.
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