Memories Found – San Francisco Panama-Pacific 1915 Int’l Exposition

Life has been really busy for me and my search for Worlds Fair items has slowly over the year gone somewhat dry. Not that I am attending fewer sales but it seems that what I used to find weekly is now becoming monthly or even many months apart.

Part of this is because I have quite a large collection and the common items have no interest for me. I do continue to look for different items and not necessarily from the 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair (that I attended when 9 years old).

Before we go into the thrill of finding new items one loves to collect I want to share with you what few things I have from this World’s Fair that happened in San Francisco only a few years after the 1906 earthquake. It was a big deal for them and the West Coast of the USA. Here is an overview of what it looked like in relation to the rest of the city.

SF Pan-Pac 1915 overview of site

An envelope & stationary are the first items I found on the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. Not surprising it was the Washington State Building.

Washington State Building – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

front of envelope WA state building -1915 Pan-Pac Expo

WA State Building Stationary – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Oh I can’t forget this little booklet of photos of the Exhibition that came my way over the years too.

Miniature View Book – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Yesterday a little dam broke and I found something very special. This house was full of high-end items but deep in a closet was a box of old paper scraps. A lot was travel brochures, tickets, maps and other debris. Some of this I buy in my quest to save quality ephemera from the trash bin and resell.  This supports my own collection and has opened a new world of history to me.

In this box I found a pile of older postcards. There is a difference you can visually see, the newer ones are often glossy and the older ones are softly colored on quality paper that stands out in a mixed postcard pile. Here is a card I already have of 1915 to show you what I mean.

Palace of Horticulture – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo – Postcard I found years earlier

To my delight I saw one with old style Worlds Fair buildings on it. It was from 100 years ago – the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco. In the end I found 10 postcards and a like-new brochure called “Souvenir Canadian Pavilion”. This is a great addition to the few things I already have  from 1915 San Francisco.

Here is a new postcard of the Palace of Fine Arts building I found yesterday. This is the feature photo of an 8″x 10″ print I found years ago. By the way this is the only building really left standing.  You might find this Now & Then article I found of interest by Rebecca O’Connell on Mental Floss

Palace of Fine Arts – the remaining building – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

What is rather odd is only last weekend on November 11, 2018 we celebrated the 100 year date of World War I Armistice.  I had read an article about it that focused on barbed wire. How we are reeling out more of it on our border with Mexico along how it was the newest thing in warfare 100 years ago in the trenches of Europe.

This brought to me an emotional reaction that I don’t know how to explain. I was not alive then but I felt that anguish in my soul. Is it possible that my soul retains the memory of this while my brain that was born in 1953 does not. Could that be why I want to save the history I find? That is a deep thought for those of us that are drawn to things of the past, however, I am not going to dwell on this unknown today.

So, here we go with more postcards and the Canadian Brochure.

The brochure is in perfect condition for being 100 years old. It looks like it was put away by this person’s parents and not touched very often since then. The part I like the best is how it has pictures of the exhibition rooms. Usually we get stylized pictures that zero in on a specific piece of the exhibit area. This shows some more global views of how things were done 100 years ago.

Canadian Pavilion Brochure front cover – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Main Corridor with mineral exhibit -Canadian Exhibit interior – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

The first postcard that caught my attention was this one produced by Carnation Milk of the Exhibit Palace where they had the Carnation Milk Condensery. My research found this reference to Carnation ( California Historical Society )

 “The Pacific Coast Condensed Milk Company kept a herd of 125 “contented” Holstein cows in the Fair’s livestock area. Milk from these cows was sent to a condensery near the Palace of Fine Arts, where Carnation produced 6,000 cans of evaporated milk daily.”

Exhibit Palace – Carnation Milk Condensery – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Back of Exhibit Palace – Carnation Milk Post Card

Then my eyes saw this interior shot of the New Jersey Building. Wonder if the family was from New Jersey and this was a big trip by train to see the Panama Pacific Exhibition.

Lobby of New Jersey Building – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

And of course the exterior shot was next to this interior one.  Check out how this temporary building is really a huge thing.

Exterior New Jersey Building – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Then a small pile of postcards all still together were in my grasp. Funny how they and the brochure were just put in a box and kind of forgotten till I found them. Their color is so sharp and they were never mailed. That they were never mailed actually makes them less valuable but they are much more pristine this way.  First I want you to see the back of all of them.

Back of Postcards from 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Isn’t this very Victorian looking? It is done in cursive style, has the logo and is compliments of the Palace Hotel.  Must be where our family stayed or they just visited that grand old dame of a hotel.  Here is a little history on this hotel from Wikipedia.

The Palace Hotel is a landmark historic hotel in San Francisco, California, located at the southwest corner of Market and New Montgomery streets. The hotel is also referred to as the “New” Palace Hotel to distinguish it from the original 1875 Palace Hotel, which had been demolished after being gutted by the fire caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The present structure opened on December 19, 1909, on the same site as its predecessor. The hotel was closed from January 1989 to April 1991 to undergo a two-year renovation and seismic retrofit. Occupying most of a city block, the now century-old nine-story hotel stands immediately adjacent to both the BART Montgomery Street Station and the Monadnock Building, and across Market Street from Lotta’s Fountain.

The Palace Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The cards are numbered so in spirit of that I am displaying them in that order.  Enjoy!

South view of Court of Palms – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Court of the Sun & Stars – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Spring – in the Court of the Four Seasons – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Court of Palms – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Court of the Sun and Stars – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Arch of the Rising Sun – Court of Sun and Stars – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

Machinery Hall – North view – 1915 Pan-Pac Expo

When the World Was Fair booming statistics

This humble blog about Worlds Fairs has seen a huge jump in visitors.  In December 2015 I had about 4 visitors a day. This December it has jumped to about 20 a day. I was shocked to see that just in November and December I have had over 1,150 visitors … compare this to all of 2015 at 950.

What is up with this? Is there that much nostalgia for World’s Fairs? Or is there is something else afoot?

Could it be the name of the blog? “When the World was Fair” and anther clue is that most folks that have touched this site are predominately from the USA.

Then it hit me!! It is all the discourse in our nation. People are landing here because they are looking for something that is missing.

I hope my Worlds Fair Memorabilia blog will give you a little smile. That you came here to find something to sooth your feeling of justice lost. Not that I am the best at political dialog but if you wish to say a few words on why you got here, I would be most appreciative.

And while you are here, stop and look around.  You might find my main blog even more interesting.  It is all about Crows, Nature, my rambling around Seattle and some historical articles on things like Longacres Ruins.  Crows of Arroyos

Thanx for visiting & come back soon.

Jr Airline Flight Bag – Seattle Worlds Fair

A new treasure to share with everyone. This is a small child size airline flight bag with Seattle Worlds Fair logo and graphics on it. That dates this around 1961 or 1962.

I am not sure if this was a give away at the fair or by an airline.  It seems a bit expensive to be free so perhaps it was purchased in Seattle during the fair.

Here are more views of what it looks like.  Do let me know if you have any information on this little flash from the past.

Jr Airline Flight Bag bottom

Top of Jr Flightbag

Side view Jr Flightbag

Seattle Worlds Fair Jr Flight Bag

Seattle World’s Fair – Official Medal Collection

How about a higher end memorabilia item? Nothing says spending a bit more to remember an occasion than the official medals of an exposition.

The hunt for my Mini Museum is as much the fun of it as actually possessing the items. When I find something so very different I get pretty dang excited.

This is how the medal find came down. The last weekend of estate sales was the weekend before Christmas. I went to two of them. The first was nice and I bought an eclectic set of things – a metal spatula, a WWII Rand McNally map and a small Space Needle Tie Tack (missing the back end and kind of degraded in general).

The second one was at a site where estate sale companies hold their events when the person does not want it in the house or they have excess items to dispose of. This one was a mixture of several sales. It had lots of jewelry, expensive art, collectables and a huge NASCAR cast cars collection.

While browsing the jewelry I told the lady I collected Worlds Fair items. She perked up and grabbed an item I had totally missed. The Official bronze Medals bound in a little book made specifically for them.  Just like a fancy coin collection should be.


It was a good price but still expensive. However, now that I have collected all the glasses, plates and small items I can find, these more top shelf items are very enticing. I asked the main guy to give me a deal and he did.  I left it at the check out table and went browsing the rest of the sale. As I wandered around he came back to me and said the magic words… everything is half off now and the deal just got really reasonable for me.

Ok – enough of the hunt story and my bargain.  Here are the Commemorative Medals book pages in greater detail.


This set is the bronze version. They were made in gold, silver and bronze. According to the Seattle World’s Fair Collectors site ( they made only 4 sets of the gold, 15,000 silver and 40,000 bronze. They were the high relief type and came in a 9 coin set. The Gold were not for sale and one is in the Smithsonian. Silver was $112.50 and the Bronze was $28.50. I paid slightly more than the original price for my set and they are listed between $225 to $120 when I researched them.

If you want to learn more here is the link to the collectors site – World’s Fair Collectors – Medals

My favorite is the star coin “the Space Medal” minted at the US Mint and designed by the famous designer & sculptor George Tsutakawa. This was to commemorate the first “Space Age World’s Fair”.



Century 21 Bronze High Relief Medal front face- 1962

The reverse is even better. The front commemorates the fair with the logo and space needle on top of the Washington State Pavilion (aka Coliseum or Key Arena). The reverse is the artists expression of outer space. It is timeless art in how he crafted the design. The book highlights it with cosmic illustrations and mankind’s adventure into the unknown far away from his home on earth.


George Tsutakawa quote – Seattle Worlds Fair Space Medal


Space depicted in Seattle Worlds Fair Medal by Tsutakawa

As a child of the 1960s, I am still fascinated by man’s exploration into space. Man walked on the moon not too many years after I visited the Century 21 Exposition. The medal collection brings back all the memories of black and white televisions wheeled into the classroom to watch a space launch.

The rest of the collection highlights all the key exhibitions and sights of the fair with their reverse showing the Century 21 logo (top feature photo).

The Space Needle and Monorail are at the top of the arrangement.



Next comes the middle tier with the Million Dollar Display (where these medals were sold) along with a huge coin collection, the World of Century 21 (the Washington State Pavilion) and the World of Science (the US Science Pavilion now the Pacific Science Center).



US Science Pavilion – Seattle WF – designed by Minoru Yamasaki

The bottom row is World of Commerce, World of Entertainment and World of Art. They are all stylized views of large areas of the fair grounds.


Thank you for visiting my Worlds Fair Blog. Hope you enjoy my rambling around the Seattle area in search of all things that are World’s Fairs Memorabilia.

New York WF Spoon in Seattle

I often wonder how worlds fair souvenirs get to Seattle. This rare treasure from the 1939 New York Worlds Fair was over in the Ballard neighborhood. I had gone to two other sales and was weaving my way home. There was an estate sale sign so I whipped around the corner to this unplanned stop.

On the big front porch they had the cashier area and some valuables in a glass case. To my glorious surprise this spoon was there. I got my hands on it and never let go until I put it into my museum on Monday. Serendipity had brought me this find.

New York Worlds Fair 1939 Spoon

New York Worlds Fair 1939 Spoon

In my research I cannot find an exact copy of it on the internet. It is unusual in that it has a cut out of the New York Skyline. They call it a bird’s eye view.

Cutout of birds-eye view of NY on '39 NY Worlds Fair

Cutout of birds-eye view of NY on ’39 NY Worlds Fair

The bowl has the Trylon and Perisphere plus New York Worlds Fair with the year 1939. Look closely and you will see the copyright symbol and NYWF. The back has “Sterling” stamped on the back and some makers marks.

bowl of '39 NYWF spoon

bowl of ’39 NYWF spoon

How did this get to Seattle and over 75 years later came to me? The places it has been and saved all these years is a mystery. Someone treasured it a lot and now it is part of my Worlds Fair Treasure Horde!

NY World’s Fair Flags and random act of kindness

These four little flags mounted on toothpicks are as fresh as they can be over 50 years later. They look like they were to be used in food but the wood shows no stains.

NY Worlds Fair mini flag

NY Worlds Fair mini flag

I have a little estate sale story to go with this find. The gentleman was moving and had to sell all his collectibles.  When I arrived I asked about worlds fair items and he said there was a letter opener and some paper flags over on a table.  I found the letter opener right away but the flags eluded me.  I even asked again and went back three times.

There was another lady there with a pile of stuff she was collecting and we chatted a few minutes about our finds.  That was when I asked her if she had seen the flags.  She said yes and that she had picked them up already.  So, I figured that was that and I would leave with the cool letter opener.

To my surprise, she pulled them out of her stuff and gave them to me. She said I needed them more than her.

NY Worlds Fair Flags in packaging

NY Worlds Fair Flags in packaging

What a wonderful random act of kindness that I have never seen at an estate sale where it is first come first serve. It made my day.

1964 NY Worlds Fair Mini Flag close up

1964 NY Worlds Fair Mini Flag close up

They are some very special little flags!

Miss Seattle World’s Fair Doll

This weekend when I did a final look at what sales to attend on Saturday morning, a private sale had popped up over night.  There in the photos was the “Official Doll” Miss Seattle World’s Fair.

Miss Seattle Worlds Fair with dark hair and purple sash

Miss Seattle Worlds Fair with dark hair and purple sash

I had never seen one in a sale and was hyped up to get there as close to opening as possible. When I arrived at about 10 minutes after 9am, there were quite a few folks there including some regulars I usually see.

Then I had that treasure hunting moment… she was still on the bookcase unclaimed.  I practically pushed over another guy in the tiny living room to get her.  And then I had her in my arms.

Not only is she a good find but she is in almost perfect condition inside her plastic bubble case. They had not taken her out too many times which kept even her hair looking like new.  Her dress is as white as they come with the lace accents not tattered or roughed up.

Miss Seattle Worlds Fair

Miss Seattle Worlds Fair

Miss Seattle Worlds Fair eyes closed

Miss Seattle Worlds Fair eyes closed

Miss Seattle Worlds Fair back

Miss Seattle Worlds Fair back

The bottom of the bell had been opened and because of that I took her out when I got home.  As you can see even her eyes close and her flower and sash are perfect.

bottom of plastic bell with Miss Seattle Worlds Fair

bottom of plastic bell with Miss Seattle Worlds Fair

I wasn’t the only one having fun.  My boy kitty Reggie had to get into the photo shoot.  I like this photo not only because of Reggie but because it gives you an idea of her size.

Reggie messing around with photo shoot.

Reggie messing around.

Happy Worlds Fair collection day!!

Seattle in the 60’s Photos

For those that want to look at the apx 180 slides of Seattle digitized. Here is a link to an online version. These slides are about 75% Seattle World’s Fair and the rest are things like Seafair, Alki Beach, Pike Place Market and some Christmas windows.  All from 1962 to 64.

Seattle in the 60s Photos

I have started writing in more detail about these photos I found at an estate sale. You can find an article at this link – After the Fair.


After the Fair – Seattle Century 21

It is fairly uncommon to find photos of after an event.  The party is over and the excitement that causes people to photograph something is over.  In my recent 300 slide purchase of 1960s Seattle there were a series of post fair photos.

The feature photo above is of the Islands of Hawaii Pavilion.  The 50th state was still new to the union by only 3 years.  This shows the emptiness of buildings being demolished or prepared for moving. From what I can tell it was used into the 70s either in its original place or in the Gay Way (Fun Forest) as a game arcade.

Several restaurants next to the International Fountain are in the collection.  The Hofbrau Haus and Fiesta where a weary fairgoer could get a drink and relax a little.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Int'l Fountain and Haufbau Retaurant

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Int’l Fountain and Hofbrau Haus restaurant


After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Skyride pole and Fiesta Restaurant

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Skyride pole and Fiesta Restaurant

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Northwest corner of fairgrounds

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Northwest corner of fairgrounds

The fairgrounds were built around a few existing buildings.  One was the old Armory that became a multi use Food pavilion called the Food Circus.  It later became the Center House and now is called the Armory in commemoration of its original use.  This photo shows that building, the State Flag Plaza, and the US Science Pavilion peeking over the top of the Hall of industry. The Hall of industry became the Flag Pavilion which has been torn down.  The whole plaza is now repurposed and called Fisher Plaza.  Notice the Hofbrau Haus Restaurant on the left? Also, for reference the Int’l Fountain is behind the photographer.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Armory and corner of Haufbau by Fountain

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Armory and corner of Hofbrau Haus by Fountain

The International Fountain has been renovated so people can walk right down to it. The inner works are also modernized.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Intl Fountain with Queen Anne Hill in distance

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Intl Fountain with Queen Anne Hill in distance

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - State Flag Plaza, Int'l Fountain, Queen Anne HIll and Exhibition Hall

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – State Flag Plaza, Int’l Fountain, Queen Anne Hill and Exhibition Hall

The Memorial Stadium started out life as Civic Field in 1927 along with several other buildings that were a foundation for the fair.  It was rebuilt in 1946 as the High School Memorial Stadium.  During the fair it hosted the Ringling Brothers Circus, Tommy Bartlett’s Water Ski Sky and Stage Show, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans’ Western Show, and an appearance by evangelist Billy Graham. (Thanx Wiki for detailed facts).  Here it is in January 1963 in clean up stage.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - empty Stadium

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – empty Stadium

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Stadium

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Stadium

Over on the other side of the Armory (Food Circus) there was a mural commissioned by artist Paul Horiuchi.  It faces the Children’s Center and has it’s back to the Space Needle.  The US Science Center is to the right in this picture below of it.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Space Needle base and Paul Horiuchi Mural (both still around)

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Space Needle base and Paul Horiuchi Mural (both still around)

This is now a grass field and used for concerts.  Some people don’t like it’s garish style but I have grown to love it as part of our 60’s art. This next picture is the Main Information Building and the Children’s Center.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Main Info & Children Buildings

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Main Info & Children Buildings

Here is what it looks like North of the mural. That is the Armory (Food Circus) on the left. Check out the cars of the time.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Corner of Food Circus (Armory) and Horiuchi mural.

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Corner of Food Circus (Armory) and Horiuchi mural.

Here we have a lot of parking and the IBM exhibit.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63- Science Ctr, IBM exhibit and cars

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63- Science Ctr, IBM exhibit and cars

Last but not least was the gift from our sister city to us.  Kobe sent this bell to Seattle for the fair and it is still in this spot to this day.

After Seattle World's Fair Jan '63 - Kobe Bell gift to Seattle

After Seattle World’s Fair Jan ’63 – Kobe Bell gift to Seattle


Slides found ’62 Worlds Fair

I got so lucky this weekend and saved from the dump a whole tray of 35 mm slides of the Seattle World’s Fair.  What is so exciting about this find is most of the slides are privately produced, which will yield never before seen views.  There are even slides of the grounds about 3 months after the fair ended.  A few were professionally done and those are kind of pinky in tone.  I am going to pick out all the good slides and have them converted to digital.  Stay tuned for more on them.

Professional and Private Slides of Seattle Worlds Fair

Professional and Private Slides of Seattle Worlds Fair


I actually bought two trays of slides with 150 in each.  One of them is about 60% Seattle Worlds Fair.  The rest are great historic photos of Seattle, including Pike Place Market and Seafair Hydroplane races.  The second tray is more Seattle in the 1960s but not near as interesting.

Here are a few samples of the Worlds Fair slides:

Seattle World's Fair Slide tray

Seattle World’s Fair Slide tray

Space Needle Slide

Space Needle Slide