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Memorial Hall At The 1876 World's Fair

 

 

1876 World's Fair

Philadelphia

May 10, 1876 ~ November 10, 1876

The Story, The Souvenirs

During the Centennial year of 1876, Philadelphia was host to a celebration of 100 years of American cultural and industrial progress. Officially known as the "International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine," the Centennial Exhibition, the first major World's Fair to be held in the United States, opened by President Ulysses S. Grant on May 10, 1876 on a 285-acre tract of Fairmount Park overlooking the Schuylkill River surrounded by a fence nearly three miles long. The official number of first day attendees was 186,272 people with 110,000 entering with free passes.  Two months after the opening on July 10, news of Custer's massacre at the Little Bighorn (June 25, 1876) reached Philadelphia.  The highest attendance date of the entire Exposition was September 28, which saw about a quarter of a million people attend, was Pennsylvania Day.

The fairgrounds, designed almost exclusively by 27-year-old German immigrant Hermann J. Schwarzmann, were host to 37 nations and countless industrial exhibits occupying over 250 individual pavilions. The Exhibition was immensely popular, drawing nearly 9 million visitors at a time when the population of the United States was 46 million.

All of the states that were in the United States in 1876 plus territories, foreign countries and industrial and agricultural organizations erected buildings to publicize their accomplishments and uniqueness. The states touted their attractions as well as their contributions to the progress of the nation. The buildings were a fascinating collection of regional architectural styles and made heavy use of local materials.  Twenty-four buildings were constructed by various states along State Avenue in the northwest corner of the exhibition grounds and elsewhere. Most of these were not designed as exhibition buildings, but were modest wooden structures that served as headquarters of the individual state Centennial commissioners and as reception rooms where visitors could sign a guest book.

One clear stipulation for state exhibitions was that no reference to the recent Civil War be made that could be construed as political or offensive. Still, most southern states declined to participate. Some were still recovering financially from the War.  Mississippi and Arkansas were notable exceptions.  Both Virginia and Tennessee were represented by private citizens, Virginia by a guesthouse behind the Women’s Pavilion, and Tennessee by a tent between the Iowa and Maryland buildings.  The fair was also credited with healing many of the wounds still left by the Civil War, binding the nation together with the effort.  States that mounted exhibits tended to display agricultural produce and other homegrown items.  Kansas produced a 20-foot replica of the national capital in corn, topped by a statue of Pomona, the fruit goddess.  Iowa displayed 35 giant glass cylinders, each over six feet tall, containing soil samples from its 35 counties.  

Each state had its designated state day at the Centennial, which included parades along State Avenue, music, and speeches. These days recorded the highest attendance, foremost being Pennsylvania Day, September 28, with 274,919 visitors.  Both presidential contenders Samuel J. Tilden of New York and Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio used their state days to campaign. Delaware-Maryland-Virginia Day featured a jousting match with knights in medieval costume.

During the Exposition the Turkish delegation presented marijuana to the United States for the first time, becoming one of the most visited exhibits of the fair.  One of the most popular exhibits in the Machinery Hall was a prototype slice of the cable that  Roebling Brothers would use for the Brooklyn Bridge.  The right arm and torch of the Statue Of Liberty were showcased at the Exposition.  For a fee of 50 cents, visitors could climb the ladder to the balcony, and the money raised this way was used to fund the rest of the statue.

Consumer products first displayed to the public include:

  • Alexander Graham Bell's telephone
  • The Remington Typographic Machine (the typewriter)
  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Wallace-Farmer Electric Dynamo, precursor to the electric light
  • Hires Root Beer
  • Thomas Edison with the megaphone and phonograph
  • Westinghouse with the air brake

The most lasting accomplishment of the Exhibition was to introduce America as a new industrial world power, soon to eclipse the might and production of every other industrialized nation, and to showcase the City of Philadelphia as a center of American culture and industry.  By the time the Exposition ended on November 10, a total of 10,164,489 people had visited the fair.

The Souvenirs

  Single admission "Package Ticket" to admit one person to the "United States International Exhibition" held in "Philadelphia" from "May 10th" to "Nov. 10th". The ticket number is stamped in the lower left corner and may vary from the number shown. Signed at the bottom by David G. Yates, "Gen'l. Manager, Dept. of Admissions". Reverse side, printed in black, has an image of Liberty with a sword in one hand and a branch in the other with an eagle beside her. Printed at top "Good for One Admission at Money Gates/Void After November 10th 1876." size: 2-5/16" x 3-13/16"

SOLD

Authorized Visitors Guide to the Centennial Exhibition and Philadelphia 1876. Phila: Lippincott. The Only Guide Book Sold on the Exhibition Grounds. Cloth Bound Edition. 48 pages with large foldout map.  Map in back of guide. 4.5" x 6.75"

SOLD

Memorial Of The International Exhibition At Philadelphia. 1876.
Author: Hunter, Thomas
Publisher: Philadelphia, Thos. Hunter, 1876

Book sold at the Philadelphia Centennial Fair celebrating the first 100 Years of the Nations birth. Same year of Custer's Last Stand at Little Big Horn.  Book is in F condition & highly preserved. Photos are clear & crisp. Binding is loose, but over all in great shape as can be seen by the photos.

48 views, one map.  Illustrates the wonderful American Gothic buildings constructed for the Centennial Exhibition.

SOLD

The booklet has sixteen folder-out pictures of the buildings and views of the worlds fair, on the inside of the back cover is a map showing the fair grounds in 1876. This book is in excellent condition, except the front cover has a piece of it's red cloth missing. The booklet measures about 5" x 3" and the front and back of the cover has a design embossed into the cover. The front cover also has embossed in gold Centennial Souvenir 1876 Philadelphia.

$62.50

  

1876 Centennial Souvenir Booklet, Philadelphia.  

SOLD

 

1876 so-called dollar medal commemorating the hundredth anniversary of American independence. The medal is 37mm in diameter. It has a series of dings along the bottom rim and shows some wear, especially on the back.

$74.50

  

Rare George Washington pressed walnut medallion from the Philadelphia 1876 Exposition. This is in good condition with a chip on the right side -- see photo. The front reads, "George Washington. Born Feb. 22, 1732 Died Dec. 14, 1799". Back reads "THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE GREAT INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION FAIRMOUNT PARK PHILADELPHIA 4TH OF JULY 1876.  This piece is one of a set of 6 made for the exhibition.  It measures close to 2-1/2 inches in diameter.  A REAL find!  A beautiful piece.

$287.50

  

"1776 Centennial Exposition 1876.  Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land".  It is a liberty bell shaped spice shaker.  It is pressed glass.

SOLD