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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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[LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION]. Grand Prize Louisiana Purc...
Mar 07, 10:00 AM CST
[LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION]. Grand Prize Louisiana Purc...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $100- $300
$902 Bids
VINTAGE 1967 MONTREAL CANADA EXPO 67 2 dishes + ashtray
Mar 21, 9:00 AM EDT
VINTAGE 1967 MONTREAL CANADA EXPO 67 2 dishes + ashtray
by Figlio Designs LLC
Est: $100- $200
$91 Bid
California Pacific International Exposition
Mar 06, 9:00 AM PST
California Pacific International Exposition
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $100
$300 Bids
Japanese P.P.I.E. pavilion groundbreaking photos
Mar 07, 11:00 AM PST
Japanese P.P.I.E. pavilion groundbreaking photos
by PBA Galleries Auctions & Appraisers
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939, Sponsor Season Pass for Governor Frank Merriam of California with His Photo
Mar 06, 11:00 AM EST
Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939, Sponsor Season Pass for Governor Frank Merriam of California with His Photo
by Archives International Auctions, LLC
Est: $250- $500
$100 Bids
VINTAGE 1967 MONTREAL CANADA EXPO 67 VILLAGE CARAVANE MOTEL IVORY SOAP LOT OF 2
Mar 21, 9:00 AM EDT
VINTAGE 1967 MONTREAL CANADA EXPO 67 VILLAGE CARAVANE MOTEL IVORY SOAP LOT OF 2
by Figlio Designs LLC
Est: $50- $100
$10 Bids
Harvest Fair- Lithograph on paper
Mar 12, 10:00 AM PDT
Harvest Fair- Lithograph on paper
by Robinhood Auctions
Est: $320- $400
$1900 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Fairs & Expositions


Figlio Designs LLC

Figlio Designs LLC

PBA Galleries Auctions & Appraisers

PBA Galleries Auctions & Appraisers

Archives International Auctions, LLC

Archives International Auctions, LLC

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.