NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR
NEW YORK, NY
Purpose: To commemorate 150th anniversary of
Inauguration of George Washington as our First President by "presenting
a…comprehensive picture of the epochal achievements of a century and a half
of modern civilization…" and to "show the way toward improvement of all
factors contributing to human welfare."
Organization: Our largest exposition ever.
Preliminary Committee of 6 appointed June 1935. Exposition Co. chartered
Oct. 1935, capital $42,000,000; public subscription to stock. City granted
$26,500,000; state over $6,000,000 and Congress $3,000,000.
Site: Over 1,200 acres, 3 1/2 miles by 1 1/2 miles at
widest, Flushing Meadows, Long Island; previously used as city dump; now
mostly built over but portion is a park. This site also hosted the 1964 New
York World's Fair.
Dates, Attendance: First year, April 30 to Oct.
31, 1939; second year, May 11 to Oct. 27, 1940. Total attendance, both
years, over 45,000,000 paid.
Participants: All states and territories and 63
foreign countries, latter number the largest ever. Dozens of both erected
own buildings. Exhibits exceeded 50,000; many Federal displays but no
Comment: Architecture was modern in character
reflecting "individual freedom of thought of those creating it." From this
great exposition, and from 1933 Century of Progress Exposition, Chicago,
came "cleanness of line, simplicity and color consciousness" carried over
later into shops, interiors and industry. Grounds were so designed that
important plaza at each entrance led to Fair's dominant feature, Theme
Center or famous Trylon and Perisphere.
Latter was true sphere, 180 ft. in diameter, 18 stories
high. It housed Theme Exhibit or "Garden City of Tomorrow," largest model
city ever built; flanked by Trylon, 700 ft. triangular obelisk. Exposition
was divided into zones--each a significant phase of modern life, e.g.,
Government, Transportation, Communication, Shelter, Clothing, Food, etc.
Railroad exhibit was largest on grounds and there was privately sponsored
Medals: Both Official Tokens and Official Medals
were issued. Latter designed by Julio Kilenyi, struck by Robbins Co. Sizes,
1 1/4 in. bronze & brass; 2 1/4 in. and 3 in. bronze only, preclude listing here.
Token was medal and not trade token; actually, it became known as World's
Fair Dollar, per below; all latter dated 1939, no 1940 issue.
WORLD'S FAIR DOLLAR
Designed by H. C. Kreis, struck by Medallic Art Co. and
sold by Manufacturers Trust Co. at its Exposition branch beginning June 23,
1939. Dubbed World's Fair Dollar probably because it cost $1, was silver
with reeded edge and length was about equal to diameter of silver dollar.
Originally intended to be round, but changed to elliptical at last minute to
comply with slug laws promulgated by the vending machine industry. It is
.900 fine, containing 59.06% of silver content of silver dollar.
Photos courtesy of John Dean
Obv. Trylon and Perisphere; around New York
World's Fair; below 1939
HK-491 Silver, reeded edge. Oval, 35mm x
Rev. In field, within beaded oval, + /
Official Token / Created by Order / of the Executive /
Committee. / March 27th, 1939 / (signed) Grover W. Whalen
/ President / +; outside, around * New York World's Fair
Issued privately by Baker & Co. Inc., now Baker
Platinum Division of Engelhard Industries, Inc., "world's largest refiners
and fabricators of precious metals." Four (4) sizes-- 1/2, 1, 5 and 10 oz.--sold
at Baker's booth at Fair for $24 per oz., metal's retail value then (vs.
$300 per oz. in 2006.) Only 1 oz. size qualifies for listing here.
Discovered 1803 by British scientist W. H. Wollaston
and named from Pallas Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Good Fortune and Health,
palladium is one of 6 precious metals of platinum group; used widely in
electrical contacts, in jewelry and as catalyst. On basis of world
production, palladium is slightly rarer than platinum which, in turn, is 14
times as rare as gold.
Baker states its "records…have been destroyed and all
of the people…involved…have passed away"; that "most of those (medals) sold
were returned eventually" for refund and later were melted down. No more 1
oz. pieces are in stock and dies have been destroyed. All medals were dated
1939, no 1940 issue.
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher
Obv. Perisphere and Trylon, with circular ramp;
within ramp microscopic (c) N.Y.W.F.; above Perisphere Gold Silver
/ and / Platinum Metals; above all around, in two lines,
Baker & Co., Inc.--Precious Metal Refinery--Newark, N. J. U. S. A. /
New York--Chicago--San Francisco--Toronto--London--Paris--Tokyo; below all
Engelhard Industries / New York World's Fair 1939
Rev. Statue, to l. Pallas, to r.
Athena; above, around • This Charm is Genuine Palladium •;
below, around Goddess of Wisdom • Bestower of Good Fortune • Guardian of
HK-492 Palladium. 38mm.
In original presentation case*.
* Black leatherette jeweler's box, approx. 2 1/2 in. sq.,
white satin and black velvet lined; on top, across center Palladium,
to lower r. Baker & Co., Inc / Newark, N. J.
LINCOLN GOLD DOLLAR
Issued expressly for exposition by late Thomas L.
Elder, New York City coin dealer (see Part III for Elder biographical
sketch); struck by Medallic Art Co. Of the 500 issued, 100 were struck with
matte surface; all medals were dated 1939, no 1940 issue.
Photos courtesy of John Dean
Obv. Male bust facing l.; to l., around
Abraham; to r., around Lincoln; below bust 1939.
Rev. Circle of 9 stars around A /
Token--all within open wreath tied at bottom with ribbon; another star in
open space at top between wreath tips.
HK-493 Gold, size of Gold Dollar. 15mm. 1.75
grams. Specific gravity: 13.0. Matte proof. Only 100 struck.
HK-493a Gold. 1.75 grams. Specific gravity: 13.0.
Brilliant finish. Only 400 struck. DeLorey 49.
HK-493b Silver. DeLorey 49. Only 25 struck.
HK-493c Gold-plated Copper. 1.25 grams. Specific
gravity: 9.0. Only 26 struck. DeLorey 49.
HK-493d Silver-plated Brass. DeLorey 49.
HK-493e Brass. DeLorey 49.
NORTH CAROLINA DOLLAR
Distributed as advertising piece by North Carolina
Department of Conservation and Development at North Carolina exhibit at
Exposition. Issue limited to 25,000 pieces donated by Aluminum Co. of
America (now Alcoa, Inc.), which has plant located in state.
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Brecher
Obv. In upper half are mountains with auto
parked in observation area at base; above Great Smoky Mts. Natl. Park;
in lower half For Information Write / Governor's /
Hospitality Committee / Raleigh, N. C. / North Carolina;
at r. border is Indian head in profile.
Rev. In upper half is replica of first airplane;
above First Flight / Orville and Wilbur Wright; below plane
Kitty Hawk 1903; in lower half is female bust facing r. with
island in background; above Roanoke Island; to l. of bust
Birthplace / of, to r. of bust Virginia / Dare; to
l. border, microscopic W. & H. Co.
HK-494 Aluminum. 38mm.