Lot 235 A World's Fair Columbian Exposition Color Lithograph, 1893

For 6 months over 26 million visitors came to the fair for food, entertainment, art and technology to mark the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' first voyage to the New World. As well as its historical and international significance, the exposition also had an effect on how Chicago stands today in terms of its architecture and the arts.

Lot 28 A Set of Four Rare 1892 World's Fair Columbian Exposition Cameo Proofs

However, the fair was not always destined for the Windy City. In the late 1880s, Chicago was pitted against St. Louis, New York and Washington, D.C., all competing to host the fair. It came down to New York and Chicago, with Cornelius Vanderbilt, William Waldorf Astor and J. P. Morgan pledging to raise $15 million to cover the cost of the fair. Meatpacking millionaires Marshall Field, Philip Armour and Gustavus Swift agreed to do the same for Chicago and thanks to help from Lyman Gage, president of one of the largest banks in the Midwest, Chicago pipped New York to the post and were chosen as hosts by the U.S. Congress.

Lot 136 A Two-Colored Woven Wool Tapestry from the World's Fair Columbian Exposition 1893

Some 50 countries and 43 U.S. states were represented at the fair. Wonderful new discoveries were made by all nations, both fluorescent light bulb and dishwashers were introduced at the fair as well as some of America's favorite confectionaries and food including Juicy fruit gum.

Lot 237 Charles S. Graham, Official Brid's-Eye View of the Columbian Exposition: Chicago USA, 1893

Lot 3 A Cast Iron World’s Fair Souvenir Still Bank from the International Industrial Fair, Buffalo, 1889

The fair ended on a sad note. Just two days before the end of the fair, popular mayor Carter Harrison, Sr. was assassinated by Patrick Eugene Prendergast. The closing ceremonies were cancelled and instead a memorial service for the mayor took place.

Lot 232 A World's Fair Columbian Exposition Poster, Chicago, 1893

All pieces featured will be part of Gray's auction on November 21, which features a vast collection of memorabilia from the World’s Fair Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893, as well as a selection of items from the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Souvenirs from ribbons, coins, prints, books to sculptures, games, furniture and textiles make up this extraordinary collection, each piece celebrating the achievements of their time. This is a single-owner collection from a prominent published author and prominent expert on the fair.

Check out the full catalog here.

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