World’s Fair

If World’s Fairs are unfamiliar to Americans, it could be because the USA has not hosted one since 1984…but they happen more years than not, including that will in Kazakhstan in the summer of 2017. Below are plates commemorating the event from the places that hosted them.


From the 1870’s through the early 1940’s, World’s Fairs were so common there were often more than one in any given year. This included 1939-40, which saw a total of nine such events around the world, including the Golden Gate International Exposition. It took place on Treasure Island in both 1939 and in 1940 for months at a time. Both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge had recently been built, and the island offered a clear view of the latter.

CA 8E 10 20



The New York World’s Fair ran from April to October 1964, and the same months in 1965. It had the theme of “Peace Through Understanding” and featured a 12-story-high, stainless-steel model of the earth called the Unisphere. New York’s 1964 base plate made note of the event, but it lacked sticker wells – so the 1965 sticker was relegated to a narrow strip which could fit between the serial and the border.



Credit: Anthony Conti/PLC Jr./Flickr

800px-Krofft's_La_Poupees_de_Paris_Pavillion_at_the_1964_N.Y._World's_Fair Digitscd800px-PodsNYWF DigitsCD

Credit: Digitscd                                             Credit: Digitscd


New Orleans was the site of the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition, held exactly 100 years after the city’s World Cotton Centennial. The theme of this fair was “The World of Rivers-Fresh Water as a Source of Life.” It included a pelican mascot named Seymore D. Fair, and a monorail crossing the Mississippi River; however, this fair did not meet attendance expectations, and needed government intervention to finish its run. Among the speculated reasons for the shortfall was that just two years earlier a fair had been held in relatively nearby Knoxville, TN. The U.S. has not hosted a World’s Fair since the 1984 event in New Orleans.


800px-NOLAFairEntranceCMAkin Flickr Carey AkinCredit: Flickr/Carey AkinJune_1984_Snap_Shot Ddj001Credit: Ddj001


In 1986, my family and I attended the 1986 World’s Fair (or exposition, hence “Expo”) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The plate on the right is the souvenir plate which to this day I remember seeing in a gift shop (at the tender of age of 10). Above left, the province’s sticker for that year contained a logo to recognize the event.

BC BJH-511SOU Expo 86


Credit: JerryE & Roy Klotz MD                   Credit: JerryE & Roy Klotz MD

800px-Expo_86_-_monorail Colin RoseCredit: Colin Rose


Note: Photos of the fairs are from the corresponding Wikipedia entries. All photos are under a Creative Commons license. Those without a credit line are in the public domain.