Expo 74 – the little City that could!

Spokane Washington was one of the smallest cities to host a Worlds Fair approved by the Bureau of International Expositions. Expo 74 had a slogan of “Celebrating Tomorrow’s Fresh New Environment” and motto of “Progress without Pollution”.  It was among the first fair in decades that did not focus on the space age, futuristic themes, or Utopian ideas of living.

My collection grew in the last couple of years.  Seattle is fairly close to Spokane and there is still a lot of memorabilia floating around.   For years there was even new old stock sold at a store in Spokane called the The White Elephant.   I just checked online and they bought all 280,000 left over pieces of “Fair Junk”.   He made his money back in 3 months and as the article states it was all gravy after that, even to this day.

Today we will start with the common Fair item.   Teacups!!

First up is the Tea Cup set with a multi view of the main pavilions and sights of the Fair. The center of the design has the Expo’s overall view.  It was located on Canada Island, Havermale Island, and the adjacent south bank of the Spokane River in the center of the city.  Around that are depictions of the US Pavilion, Washington State Pavilion, Skyway Safari, Oriental Gardens, the Ride over the Falls and Nations Flags.  Of course it had the logo, location and name of the Event too.

Expo 74  Tea Cup Set

Expo 74 Tea Cup Set

The second set is much more modern.  It has a less old lady style.   The cup is plain white with just Expo 74 on it.   The plate depicts The Great Northern Tower, United States Pavilion, Aerial Rides and the Spokane River and Monroe Street Bridge.

Spokane Worlds Fair Tea Cup Plate

Spokane Worlds Fair Tea Cup Plate

Spokane Worlds Fair Modern Tea Cup set

Spokane Worlds Fair Modern Tea Cup set


$3 dollar Worlds Fair find

On Valentines Day 2015 I started my weekend adventures by going to three estate sales.  The first one was a house full of dolls and china cups and plates. This was a collection of a 90-year-old lady who had gone to the nursing home. In the living room was a line of tables with all the costume jewelry and other smalls displayed.

I asked the lady attending the tables if there was any Worlds Fair items.  She said she didn’t think so but handed me a box of buttons/pins. I pawed through that box and found nothing of interest. Then I spotted a box of thimbles where again I found nothing.  Moving along I came to her collection of spoons all loose in a box.   Methodically I sorted through the box, and almost the last spoon I touched is this Century 21 Exposition spoon.  Joy sprung into my collectors heart.

I rounded the corner of the tables and found another box with spoons. These were in their original boxes.  There I put my hands on a spoon with the Unisphere on the top. That was the symbol of the 1964 New York Worlds Fair.  It is one of the few fair structures that still exists today at Flushing Meadows.

Worlds Fair Spoon commemorates Unisphere

Worlds Fair Spoon commemorates Unisphere

Picking through what American Pickers calls smalls can be time consuming but is so worth it if you find what you seek.  My third prize was in a real junk box of stuff.  In the past I found my first Seattle Worlds Fair Space Needle pen in one of those junk boxes.   That makes me want to go to hoarder type estate sales because they have lots of unorganized debris of life.   In this case this house was in great shape and had quality antiques, not the place one finds treasure that was not gleaned out by the Estate Sale Company.   But that is what I was finding on this set of tables.

The third item was this odd glass ashtray item with writing in the box.  My instincts tell me to check out things that have writing because they are usually some sort of memorabilia.  I was right and even more delighted to read Golden Gate International Exposition 1940 (San Francisco Bay) on this block of glass.

It had the sculpture Pacifica which was a statue created by Ralph Stackpole for the 1939–1940 Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. Stackpole’s largest sculpture, it towered 81 feet (25 m) over the entrance to the Cavalcade of the Golden West in the Court of Pacifica.  She was the theme statue for the exposition, representing world peace, neighborliness, and the power of a unified Pacific coast.

You ask what happened to the statue?  The United States Navy purchased the island as a naval base in 1941, and Pacifica was demolished along with most other exposition structures.

All this info on Pacifica is courtesy Wikipedia.

Now back to this little 75 years old find.  It is not an ashtray as I first thought.  The lettering and embossed side of the glass block was on the top which makes me think it is a lid for some glass container.  Perhaps a food container for the refrigerator or a candy dish. I did some internet searching and didn’t see anything like it.  See what you think?

1940 Glass Lid - where is the jar or dish?

1940 Glass Lid – where is the jar or dish?

When I took them to pay, she said a dollar each.  I was surprised because I knew the spoons are probably worth $5 to $10 each.   The glass block, well, it is only valuable to me because it is missing the rest of it.

It was a great day for the Mini Museum!!

New Finds – Seattle Worlds Fair

Today – February 7, 2015, I found at two Estate Sales some new Seattle Worlds Fair items.  It has been a little dry finding things lately.   Partly due to the holiday season slowing down the number of estate sales but also families are now holding onto the memorabilia due to sentimental reason.  Plus this stuff is getting more valuable now, as it is over 50 years old.

First stop was on the way to the liquor store at Westwood Village.   Too convenient to not stop & check out the debris of someones life.   When I walk into a sale if the person greets me, I ask if they have any Worlds Fair items.   This not only helps me cut to the chase but also might save me losing it to another collector.   Speed gets the spoils!!   At this sale both the estate lady and another visitor piped up & pointed me to this lovely little plate.

Jacob Kaboi China Co 6"  plate

Jacob Karoi China Co 6″ plate

At first I was a bit skeptical because the marking on it said China.   If it was imported from China, then it could not be a real 1960s Fair item.  The doors of trade to Red China did not open until Nixon in the ’70s.   But I bought it anyway because it just had the right look.

Got home and with a magnifying glass I discovered it was really the manufacturer’s name Jacob Karoi China Co.   Also, found another plate by that maker online.   So….. it is real.   The gold ring on the edge is slightly chipped on the bottom, so at the register I asked for a discount.  Got 2 bucks off.  One last note, the picture isn’t really correct.  I’ll let you sort that out yourself.

Buildings not correct on Seattle Worlds Fair plate

Buildings not correct on Seattle Worlds Fair plate

Next I drove to Des Moines which is just south of where I buy gas. This is where I found a 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ box of matches from the United States Science Pavilion.  They were manufactured by Western Match Company of Seattle.

Not sure if they were a give away or not but this sale had 3 boxes.  Two unopened and one opened.   I bought the opened one and when I got home counted the matches.   The box says it has 59 barbecue matches in it (why 59?) but the box was three short. Plus the striker side had a little strike spot.   You ask why I didn’t buy the sealed ones.  First they were more expensive but second, I like to play with my finds.    Yes I would have broken the seal anyway & then wasted the money.

The last item I found at this sale is a piece of telephone history. I have a small collection of antique phones that I got from my step dad Phil.  He worked for GTE and his specialty in the 70s was to convert old phones or just refurbish them.   My collection ranges from old oak wall phones, a 40’s pay phone, a candlestick phone and some great bakelite 20s and 30s phones.  I think I might even have an old Princess or Trimline in the box somewhere.

Back to the find.   There was this little tray of old Bell System giveaways.   They were only a buck a piece and they contained still in the wrappers little Trimline phones.  The advertisement says “new”, so they have to be from the early 60s.  The Trimline came out around 1965 but was displayed at the 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair.  There was a human size functioning example of one at the fair that I found in a Telephone museum.  The mystery is…. were these give aways at the Worlds Fair?   May never know but here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Timeline Phone giveaway - early 60s

Timeline Phone giveaway – early 60s

Bell System Trimline Phone Keychain

Bell System Trimline Phone Keychain