So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To celebrate 100th anniversary of settlement of "Northwest Territory," created 1787 by Federal government; now states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota.

Organization: This was joint venture of Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade & Transportation and Ohio Mechanics Institute; far larger than annual industrial fairs previously sponsored by Mechanics Institute alone. Board of Commissioners created to stage event; public subscribed $1,000,000 "guaranty fund"; modest grants by city and state but Federal participation limited to displays only.

Sites, Dates, Attendance: Held in famed Music Hall, heart of city, and in "two vast temporary" structures, erected on both banks of Miami-Erie Canal and in Washington Park; 43 acres under roof. Ran 100 days, July 4-Oct. 27, 1888; attendance over 1,000,000. Music Hall completely renovated 1954 at cost of $500,000; canal long since drained and paved over, now Central Parkway.

Comment: Ohio Mechanics Institute sponsored first industrial fairs ever held in west beginning 1839; discontinued during Civil War, then staged first real exposition 1870. Music Hall, specifically Springer Auditorium, completed 1878; Reuben R. Springer contributed $185,000 of $302,000 total cost; wings added later. Heritage of "gingerbread" era, Hall helped city become "mother of expositions."

For 1888 celebration and exposition, governors of 12 neighboring states named honorary commissioners; those states active participants; many Federal displays but no Mint Exhibit. Exposition divided into 17 departments covering "entire range of American achievements in industry, art and science." On canal, there was daily presentation of pageant depicting Venice and its gondolas; electric display was great attraction. Exposition was largest of its day in west.

Medals: Research fails to establish if either of medals below were of official nature; designers and extent of issues unknown but both pieces are quite rare. See also Part I, Ohio Valley Exposition--1910 and Part II, Cincinnati Fall Festival--1906


Photos courtesy of W. David Perkins

Obv. Male bust r.; above * George Washington *; directly below bust, to l., microscopic Murdock; below, around Born Feb. 22 ' 1732. Died Dec. 14 ' 1799.; beaded border.
Rev. Edifice in center; above Centennial Exposition; to l., vertical 1788; to r., vertical 1888; below edifice of the / Ohio Valley & / Central States / at / Cincinnati. (no beaded border on reverse). On edge, Jas. Murdock Jr die sinker Cincinnati

HK-146 White Metal. 38mm. Baker G-378.


Photos courtesy of W. David Perkins

Obv. View of exposition; above, around Centennial Exposition; below, July 4 - Oct. 27 / 1888 / Cincinnati, Ohio
Rev. Border legend, An Exposition of the Growth & Prosperity * * *; within sunken central circle, a wreath; within wreath, of the / Ohio Valley / -• and •- / Central / * / States

HK-147 White Metal.
HK-147a Bronze.

HK-145 to HK-145a