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Gray's Auctioneers offers memorabilia, ephemera and souvenirs from the World's Fairs
1933 Chicago Uniform.

CLEVELAND, OH.- The World’s Fairs make their way to Gray’s Auctioneers on July 31st at 11am. Over a century has passed since the first exhibitions shared the latest advancements in science, art, travel and technologies of the time. The fairs gave rise to the popularity of the souvenir, giving the public a chance to keep a memory of the time spent in those grand buildings, exhibition halls and their respective host cities.

Chicago was home to two extensive world’s fairs, the first being the Columbian Exhibition of 1893 which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the New World. A few of the grand buildings are depicted on lot 88, a pair of Japanese Kutani Porcelain Vases. Another impressive piece is lot 43, a large circular copper and brass plaque. The central bas-relief brass medallion of the plaque depicts Lady Liberty embracing the earth and unveiling America, within a double banding of shield forms representing the fifty states and their symbols, tethered together by a ribbon inscribed 'In God We Trust, E. Pluribus Unum'.

The second fair Chicago held in 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression, entitled A Century of Progress celebrated the city’s centennial and came to symbolize hope for America’s future. To ensure the safety of the World's Fair attendees the organizers hired many additional police. Lot 250 shows us the policemen’s uniform which was comprised of a wool jacket and pants. The lot also includes the 'Public Service Manual of a Century of Progress' and a whistle.

The New York World’s Fair of 1939 produced two iconic structures, the Trylon and Perisphere, situated at the center of the fair. These landmark monumental structures can be seen on the majority of the memorabilia and souvenirs. The advertising posters were made with them as prominent features within each design. Lot 370 is a poster for the fair designed by Albert Staehle, depicting a woman in her uniform, with the Trylon and Perisphere in the background. Two other poster lots for the fair, lot 371 designed by Joseph Binder and lot 372 designed by John Atherton depict the structures in a more surreal, stylized way. All the posters were printed by Grinnell Lithography Co., NY, the printing company chosen to print all the souvenir postcards and posters for the fair.

The magnificent art and architecture of Chicago’s Columbian Exposition was celebrated in the publication of William Walton’s two volume, leather bound, elephant folio commemorative books. Lot 131 has two sets of the two volume compendium, depicting the stunning structures and fine art from arguably the most palatial of all the World’s Fairs.

Gray’s upcoming auction also includes memorabilia, ephemera and souvenirs from some of the lesser known fairs including the 1901 Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo, the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, the 1965 New York World’s Fair and several others.

Gray’s will be open for exhibition July 27 - 31: Thursday - Friday, 10am - 5pm; Saturday, 12 noon - 4pm; Sunday 12pm - 4pm. The auction starts at 11am EST on Monday, July 31 with live bidding provided by The fully illustrated catalog is now online at

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