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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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COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION ISSUE 1892-93 HIGH FACE VALUE
Dec 10, 12:00 PM EST
COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION ISSUE 1892-93 HIGH FACE VALUE
by RB Fine Arts
Est: $1,100- $1,300
$501 Bid
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Silk
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Silk
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $100
$301 Bid
Rare Ca.1935 San Diego Expo Sheriff's Badge
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
Rare Ca.1935 San Diego Expo Sheriff's Badge
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
World's Columbian Exposition Idaho Program
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
World's Columbian Exposition Idaho Program
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $100
$301 Bid
1915 San Diego Panama-California Exposition
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
1915 San Diego Panama-California Exposition
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $80- $150
$501 Bid
178 Chevrolet Cars at the Lebanon County Fair 1915
Dec 08, 10:00 AM CST
178 Chevrolet Cars at the Lebanon County Fair 1915
by Matthews Auctions, LLC
Est: $0- $0
$251 Bid
(3) Worlds Columbian Exposition 1893 Tickets (no Return)
Feb 18, 9:30 AM EST
(3) Worlds Columbian Exposition 1893 Tickets (no Return)
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$201 Bid
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Directory
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Directory
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $100
$301 Bid
[World's Columbian Exposition] 1893 Columbus Medal
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
[World's Columbian Exposition] 1893 Columbus Medal
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $100
$301 Bid
1893 Steel Columbian Exposition Souvenir Grades ng
Dec 08, 11:00 AM EST
1893 Steel Columbian Exposition Souvenir Grades ng
by Key Date Coins
Est: $25- $100
$201 Bid
[California Pacific International Exposition}
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
[California Pacific International Exposition}
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
[California Pacific International Exposition]
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
[California Pacific International Exposition]
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $80- $125
$500 Bids
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Invitation
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Invitation
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Tickets
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Tickets
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $150
$600 Bids
1898 TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPOSITION SERIES STAMP LOT
Dec 16, 11:45 AM EST
1898 TRANS-MISSISSIPPI EXPOSITION SERIES STAMP LOT
by Carroll's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $80- $320
$120 Bids
Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909 Printed Silk Handkerchief
Dec 15, 11:00 AM EST
Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909 Printed Silk Handkerchief
by Archives International Auctions, LLC
Est: $130- $260
$900 Bids
Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, 1905 Intaglio Printed Silk Handkerchief
Dec 15, 11:00 AM EST
Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, 1905 Intaglio Printed Silk Handkerchief
by Archives International Auctions, LLC
Est: $150- $300
$1100 Bids
1893 World's Columbian Exposition Ticket Columbus Legacy Very Choice New 64PPQ
Dec 07, 8:00 AM PST
1893 World's Columbian Exposition Ticket Columbus Legacy Very Choice New 64PPQ
by BK Auctions
Est: $130- $160
$10 Bids
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Tickets (10)
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
[World's Columbian Exposition, 1893] Tickets (10)
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $150
$700 Bids
California Pacific International Exposition
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
California Pacific International Exposition
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $80
$300 Bids
California Pacific International Exposition 1/2
Dec 08, 9:00 AM PST
California Pacific International Exposition 1/2
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $100
$300 Bids
Collectible 1893 World's Columbian Exposition Chicago Columbian silver half dollar coin
Dec 13, 7:00 PM EST
Collectible 1893 World's Columbian Exposition Chicago Columbian silver half dollar coin
by Omni Auction Corp
Est: $85- $120
$400 Bids
1893 World's Columbian Exposition Ticket Handel Legacy Gem New 65PPQ
Dec 06, 8:00 AM PST
1893 World's Columbian Exposition Ticket Handel Legacy Gem New 65PPQ
by BK Auctions
Est: $350- $400
$10 Bids
Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1904 Intaglio Printed Silk Handkerchief with Theodore Roosevelt
Dec 15, 11:00 AM EST
Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1904 Intaglio Printed Silk Handkerchief with Theodore Roosevelt
by Archives International Auctions, LLC
Est: $450- $750
$3250 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Fairs & Expositions


Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC

Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC

Archives International Auctions, LLC

Archives International Auctions, LLC

BK Auctions

BK Auctions