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World Fairs

World Fairs Collection

History Archive - World Fairs Collection

A world's fair, world fair, world expo, universal exposition, or international exposition (sometimes expo or Expo for short) is a large international exhibition designed to showcase achievements of nations. These exhibitions vary in character and are held in different parts of the world.

World's fairs originated in the French tradition of national exhibitions, a tradition that culminated with the French Industrial Exposition of 1844 held in Paris. This fair was followed by other national exhibitions in continental Europe and the United Kingdom.

The best-known first World Expo was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations". The Great Exhibition, as it is often called, was an idea of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, and is usually considered to be the first international exhibition of manufactured products. It influenced the development of several aspects of society, including art-and-design education, international trade and relations, and tourism. This expo was the precedent for the many later international that have continued to be held to the present time.

The character of world fairs, or expositions, has evolved since the first one in 1851. Three eras can be distinguished: the era of industrialization, the era of cultural exchange, and the era of nation branding. The first era and one relevant to our collections is the era of "industrialization", roughly covered the years from 1800 to 1938. In these days, world expositions were largely focused on trade and displayed technological advances and inventions. World expositions were platforms for state-of-the-art science and technology from around the world.

The world expositions of 1851 London, 1853 New York, 1862 London, 1876 Philadelphia, 1889 Paris, 1893 Chicago, 1897 Brussels, 1900 Paris, 1901 Buffalo, 1904 St. Louis, 1915 San Francisco, and 1933-34 Chicago were notable in this respect. Inventions such as the telephone were first presented during this era. This era set the basic character of the world fair.

Available Books


Image Name
Berlin R. Foundry – Iron Candelabra
Pavillon des Eaux et Forets
Specimens of Russian Embroidery
Tunis No. 3
Pavillon des Enfants
Palais de L'Hygiene
France No. 4
Back Cover
The Massacre of the Innocents, carved in oak by Geerts, Louvain
[View No. 4]
In the Fine Arts Court
French Commission Building
Statuette in Ivory and Objects in Gold and Silver by Froment-Meurice, Paris
Carpet, in the Mediaeval Style by Crace, London. Designed by Pugin.
A Section of the Court of the Four Seasons - Illuminated
Photographic Association Studio
Front Cover
Sideboard, carved in Oak by Jackson and Graham, London
Group of Vases in Beauvais ware by Mansard, Voisinlieu, near Paris
Cremer – Cabinet
Marchand – Chimney-piece
New Jersey Building
A Section of the Esplanade
The Inauguration
Open-work Panel by Bailey and Co., London
In the West Nave
Sevres Porcelain
Back Cover
The Hunter by Gibson, R.A.
Pavillon des Colonies Francises
Cristofle – Enamelled Ware
In the Agricultural Court
Stove, in the Mediaeval Style by Hardman, Birmingham. Designed by Pugin.
New Hampshire Building
Group of Silversmiths' Work by Froment-Meurice, Paris
Tower in Court of Abundance
[View No. 2]
“The Coventry Ribbon.” and Specimens of Ribbons from St. Etienne
Lacquer-work, from Cashmere
Fountain in Iron by Andre, Paris
Palais des Beaux Arts
Lehman – Silk Tissues
Pellatt – Glass
Paper-Hanging by Woollams, London
Group of Glass by Count Harrach, Bohemia
Escrutoire in White Wood by Wettli, Berne
Title Page
The Pleasures of Public Gardens by Drake, Berlin
The Western Section of the Zone
Decoration of Saddle-cover
A Group in Bronze by Vittoz, Paris
Woolner – Sculpture
Hardman – Wrought-iron Screen
Stopped by the California Coast, 7,000 Miles from Asia
Front Cover
Wisconsin Building
Alcatraz Island and San Francisco Bay from the Exposition
Marchand – Chimney-piece
Group of Objects by Morel, London
Cook's World's Ticket Office
France No. 3
[View No. 11]
Printed Table-covers by H. and T. Wood, London. From Designs by Miss A. Carly
Ground Plan of Machinery Hall
Jones & Willis – Church Hangings
Group of Crystal Vases and Jewellery
Gremser – Ivory Carving
Cradle, carved in boxwood by Rogers, London, for her Majesty the Queen
Embroidered Bags from Greece
[View No. 1]
Chocolate Cup in Silver by Lebrun, Paris
Fountain in Terra-cotta by March, Thiergartenfelde, near Charlottenburg, Prussia
Paper-Hanging by Townsend and Parker, London
La Tour de 300 Meters
Bouillet – Embroidery
Altar and Reredos by Myers, London, and Hardman, Birmingham. Designed by Pugin.
Pilaster in Carton-pierre by Cruchet, Paris
Vase, “Rimini” by Royal Manufactory at Sevres
The Palace of Varied Industries
The Tower of Jewels and the Great South Gardens
Rouvenat – Jewellery
Objects from a Dessert Service presented by her Majesty the Queen to the Emperor of Austria by Minton, Stoke-upon-Trent
Bradford Court
Barve – Sculpture
Knepper & Schmidt – Paper-hangings
[View No. 8]
Greek Embroidery
The Golden Gate from the Exposition


Map Name
Panama-Pacific International Exposition - Pictorial Map of the World (1913)
Panama-Pacific International Exposition - Winter and Summer Belts of Temperature (1913)
Panama-Pacific International Exposition - Pictorial Map of Panama Canal and Zone (1913)
Panama-Pacific International Exposition - Pictorial Map of San Francisco (1913)
Panama-Pacific International Exposition - Pictorial Map of California (1913)


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