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Fairs & Expositions

The existence of fairs is recorded in the Bible as early as 500 BC. Historically, fairs and expositions were events that were commercial in nature and served the agricultural community, giving people in rural areas a place to go to trade for goods and services. Fairs were often held at the same time as religious rites or feasts, as large groups of people gathered for these events. The addition of entertainment gave fairs the format we know today.

The first world's fair was held in London, England in 1851. World's fairs, also known as international expositions, focus on advances in industry, science, and culture throughout the world. While local fairs may run for a few days, world's fairs are held for a period of three to six months.

Since world's fairs were large, worldwide events, many souvenirs were produced to commemorate them. Collectors can easily find a variety of world's fair souvenirs including pins, buttons, medals, badges, china, flags, pillows, trinket dishes and boxes, and many other items. These items were produced in large quantities, so most world's fair collectibles are very affordable, though some rare items sell for higher prices.


Quick Facts

  • The first fair in North America was established in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1765. Known as the Hants County Exposition, this fair continues to be held every fall
  • Souvenirs of the Great Exposition of 1851 are rare today, but include medals depicting the Crystal Palace, Queen Victoria, and Prince Albert
  • One of the best-known world's fairs held in North America was the Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago, Illinois in 1893 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus landing in America. This fair produced numerous souvenirs including china, postcards, charms, and a line of official U.S. coins minted to raise money for the fair

Recommended Items at Auction

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Frank Leslie's 1876 Centennial Exposition
Oct 22, 9:00 AM EDT
Frank Leslie's 1876 Centennial Exposition
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $25- $200
$201 Bid
Rambler Medallion
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
Rambler Medallion
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $100
$201 Bid
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Panama-Pacific International Exposition Collection [138557]
Oct 28, 8:00 AM PDT
Panama-Pacific International Exposition Collection [138557]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
5 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION GLASS PAPERWEIGHTS
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
5 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION GLASS PAPERWEIGHTS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $150- $300
$501 Bid
5 Fruit Crate Labels
Oct 21, 12:00 PM EDT
5 Fruit Crate Labels
by Willow Auction House
Est: $40- $60
$200 Bids
George Barrie Etching "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Columbian Exposition 1893
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
George Barrie Etching "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Columbian Exposition 1893
by Dana J. Tharp Auctions
Est: $75- $100
$200 Bids
9 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION RUBY FLASH DAKOTA & OTHERS
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
9 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION RUBY FLASH DAKOTA & OTHERS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$500 Bids
14 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION PORCELAIN SOUVENIR CHINA
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
14 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION PORCELAIN SOUVENIR CHINA
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $150- $300
$500 Bids
COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION STAMP BOXES & QUEEN ISABELLA
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION STAMP BOXES & QUEEN ISABELLA
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $250- $500
$800 Bids
7 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION RUBY FLASH KINGS CROWN
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
7 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION RUBY FLASH KINGS CROWN
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$500 Bids
8 WORLDS COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION RUBY FLASH & ETCHED
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
8 WORLDS COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION RUBY FLASH & ETCHED
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$500 Bids
9 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION AUSTRIA PORCELAIN SOUVENIRS
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
9 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION AUSTRIA PORCELAIN SOUVENIRS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $250- $400
$800 Bids
7 WORLD'S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION FERRIS WHEEL ITEMS
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
7 WORLD'S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION FERRIS WHEEL ITEMS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
7 WORLD'S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION METAL DISHES
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
7 WORLD'S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION METAL DISHES
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$500 Bids
5 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION AUSTRIA PORCELAIN PLATES
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
5 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION AUSTRIA PORCELAIN PLATES
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$500 Bids
5 WORLDS COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION WOVEN SILK BOOKMARKS
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
5 WORLDS COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION WOVEN SILK BOOKMARKS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
4 WORLDS COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION WOVEN SILK BOOKMARK
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
4 WORLDS COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION WOVEN SILK BOOKMARK
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
5 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION PATRIOTIC MATCH HOLDERS
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
5 COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION PATRIOTIC MATCH HOLDERS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$800 Bids
COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $150- $300
$400 Bids
COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION WATER PITCHER, LAMP & BOTTLES
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION WATER PITCHER, LAMP & BOTTLES
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $150- $300
$500 Bids
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Midland Empire Fair in Billings, Montana Poster [139743]
Oct 30, 8:00 AM PDT
Midland Empire Fair in Billings, Montana Poster [139743]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Early 1939 NY World's Fair complete street guide
Oct 24, 11:30 PM EDT
Early 1939 NY World's Fair complete street guide
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $65- $75
$350 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Fairs & Expositions


Milestone Auctions

Milestone Auctions

Holabird Western Americana

Holabird Western Americana

Copake Auction Inc.

Copake Auction Inc.

Nadeau's Auction Gallery

Nadeau's Auction Gallery