Cleveland, Ohio – (November 8, 2016) Gray’s Auction on November 21st 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 expert and published author on the subject.
The auction opens at lot 1 with a rare Victorian Centennial Table, 1776-1876. The piece has intricate walnut, maple and mahogany marquetry depicting George Washington in profile with flags, a shield and eagle decoration surrounded by scrolling vines and acanthus leaves with ebonized and gilt accents. The level of detail is not just contained on the surface of the table, but extends down the legs with amazing patterning and carving.
Another interesting piece before the auction transitions into the Columbian Exposition is lot 3, a cast iron World’s Fair Still Bank from the International Industrial Fair in Buffalo, 1889. With a combination lock on the front, this charming piece has worldly decorations showing a portion of the earth and stars, invoking a sense of exploration.
The auction then transitions into the Columbian Exposition. Notable items include lot 52, a bronze depicting a man blocking the sun from his eyes, searching far into the distance. The piece is by Galli Pizzardo (19th/20th Century) and is titled Tierra! Tierra! Meaning ‘Earth! Earth!’ in Spanish. A fine selection of coins includes lot 28, four rare 1892 Columbian Exposition Cameo Proofs by Wilhelm Mayer of Stuttgart Germany.
Many textiles and quilts are preserved in good condition, including lot 136, a two colored woven wool tapestry depicting the landing of Columbus with a floral border.
A selection of prints and posters from the Exposition give us a visual perspective on what it may have been like to visit the fair. Lot 235 depicts Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty pointing over the Exposition Grounds in the distance, with representatives in native dress from all participating countries waving their flag. The slogan 'All Nations Are Welcome' appears across the top. The print was originally created to supplement the World's Columbian Exposition illustrated, May 1, 1893.
Similarly, Lot 237 by Charles S. Graham (1852-1911) depicts a sweeping overhead view of the entire fair. The work was originally created as part of a portfolio from the World's Columbian Exposition. Lot 239 is a group of two prints also by Charles S. Graham, depicting the Agricultural Building and the Gallery of Fine Arts.
Lot 232 is a tall color lithograph poster by the Strobrige Litho. Co., Cincinnati and New York. It is inscribed 'At the German Village with Midway Plaisance during the World's Fair; Daily Two Grand German Military Concerts under the Leadership of the Royal Prussian Music Director E. Ruscheweyth and Cavalry Bandmaster, G. Herold.'
A second notable poster by Eugene Grassett (1841-1917) is lot 231, titled Exposition Internationale de Madrid, 1893. This stylized piece is quite large and has a visual avalanche of patterns and textures.
Gray’s is open for in-person preview November 14 - 20; Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm, Saturday - Sunday 12noon - 4pm. The auction starts at 11am EST on November 21 with live bidding provided by GraysAuctioneers.com. The fully illustrated catalog is now online at LiveAuctioneers.com.
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