Philadelphia World's Fair admission ticket

by Dr. Lori Verderame

The first modern World’s Fair, known as the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, was held at the Crystal Palace in London, England in 1851. When it comes to World’s Fair collectibles, some of the most popular World’s Fairs were: London (1851), Paris (1855 and 1889), Philadelphia (1876), Chicago (1893), St. Louis (1904), San Francisco (1915), New York (1939 and 1964), Seattle (1962), Montreal (1967), etc.

World's Fair Seattle Jim Beam bottle

These massive events, hosted by major cities around the globe, highlighted new innovations in various industries, art and science exhibits, entertainment spectacles, and hosted millions of visitors. Options are endless when it comes to World’s Fair collectibles.

What to Look For

Some valuable World’s Fair collectibles include: an admission ticket to the Centennial Expo held in Philadelphia in 1876, ferris wheel toys from the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago where George Ferris’ famous amusement ride debuted, an Ingersoll pocket watch with the Cascades pictured on the dial from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis, a ruby glass cut to clear souvenir cup with the city and year of the World’s Fair embossed on the surface, a Jim Beam bottle in the shape of the landmark Space Needle which was erected for the World’s Fair held in Seattle, Washington in 1962, and the World’s Fair board game highlighting the famous Perisphere and other attractions of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.

World's Fair Philadelphia

The most valuable World’s Fair collectibles are those items which highlight the most famous aspects of a particular World’s Fair. The most famous aspects of any World’s Fair is typically the temporary architectural buildings and landscaped areas of the fair site. Objects that recall the immense project of the fairgrounds and important landmarks that debuted at the fair like the Eiffel Tower and such are most desirable on the collectibles market. Many of these World’s Fair collectibles have sold for a few hundred dollars to several tens of thousands of dollars on the collectibles market.

Look for unique, unusual, hard to come by, or exotic World’s Fair collectibles that were first introduced at a specific World’s Fair like ice cream cone advertisements, Tiffany stained glass lamps, Eiffel Tower snow globes, etc. Collect those World’s Fair collectibles that feature a specific host city or focus on a particular innovation or specialty attraction.

Get an online appraisal report of your World’s Fair collectible from Dr. Lori.