Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Stuff From The Box - 1939 World's Fair Edition

The last "Stuff From The Box" post finished up the contents of the original cigar box. But I have another mysterious box of unimaginable treasures! It's also a cigar box, but kind of ugly. It holds a lot though, and happens to contain many pins and items relating to the 1939/40 New York World's Fair. Obviously I am a fan, but I realize that many of you might not be as enthusiastic. Still, I want to share them, since I went to the trouble of photographing them. I think you can take it! 

We'll start out with this cloth patch, removed from a Fair employee's uniform. A surprising number of hats and coats (for women and men) from this event have survived, though they are not cheap of course - and it seems to support the theory that people were generally smaller back then. I've always thought it would be neat to find something that I could wear, but have never seen anything to fit a guy who is over 6 feet tall.

Interestingly, the New York Yankees wore different patches on their uniforms, you can find photos of legends such as Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth with them.

Here's a neat desktop tchotchke - not exactly a paperweight. Just a thing to admire. The glass sphere originally held perfume (of the very highest quality I am sure) from Saks Fifth Avenue. I believe that the red base is made of Bakelite.

This is an impressively large and heavy pin featuring the Marine Transportation building with what looks like two ship's prows side by side. It seems to be made of some sort of pot metal (zinc alloyed with other metals). The rhinestones look pretty fancy, and the blue paint is still bright, though it has peeled off a bit. 

Next is a photo of two similar plastic (Bakelite again?) pins with applied Trylon and Perisphere (T&P) decorations, accented with rhinestones. The one on the left appears to have been worn quite a lot, while the one on the right looks about as new as can be.

Souvenir medals (or "bronze coins") were popular souvenirs, I used to have quite a variety - but sold most of them on eBay years ago. I kept this one because it is still on its original display card. The front has a striking design with the T&P. Folks remember the 1939/40 Fair for its "Dawn of a New Day" and "World of Tomorrow" themes, but the opening corresponded with the 150th anniversary of Washington's inauguration, as seen on the back of the medal.

Next is this small souvenir ring with a glass cabochon, reverse-painted with the Marine Transportation building. There are other rings and pins out there with similar reverse-painted designs.

And finally, here are two bronze pins, still mounted on their cards, in their original cellophane sleeves. I can only assume that there was a lot of unsold merchandise at the Fair's end. Carded pins are not super common, but not super rare either.

This is the same pin but with an additional tiny "39" pin. My mom calls these "sweater pins", but perhaps they have a more official name; double pins seem to have been a very popular thing back in the 1930s.

Well, that's it for today, but I'm afraid I haven't exhausted all of the World's Fair items just yet. I promise that the box contains more than just Fair stuff! Maybe next time I'll post non-Fair trinkets as a palate cleanser.


Nanook said...

A pretty yummy assortment of goodies from the fair. The Trylon and Perisphere desktop 'tchotchke' gets my vote.

Thanks, Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...

I thought Avon had unique perfume decanters in the 70s, but your desktop perfume tchotchke is really unique. I can't decide between it and the ring - so I'll take them both, thank you very much. I could even put the ring on the Trylon, when I take it off at night, so I don't lose it.

Thanks, Major - I hope you have lots of boxes of fun stuff to keep sharing with us!

Melissa said...

Wow, if there’s anything better than a box of treasures, it’s another box of treasures!

They’re all pretty special, but I think my favorites from this batch are the (possibly) Bakelite items. Such vivid color!
My Grandma has a Bakelite cigarette case with a rose carved into the lid, that he sent home to her while he was away during WWII.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I like all of these items, but I think my favorites would be the coin and pins, which are still on their original cards. That's amazing that the pins are still sealed in cellophane. I think it's time to open those puppies up! It would only increase their value, and then you could wear them as earrings! ;-)

Chuck said...

My favorite today is the ring. It seems to be...calling to me. It's so...precious.

Man, I could go for some sushi about now.

Stu29573 said...

My fav? Well, now that you ask, I'd say the tchotchke! There's just something cool about a big chunk of bakelite! Since the contents were such high quality, I'm sure you can still faintly smell them now...kind of like when your car hits a skunk. ;-)
Thanks for the treasures!

DrGoat said...

Fantastic assortment of cool and shiny things. I do like the tchotchke, basically because Bakelite is involved, and it is a neat desktop item. Also drawn to the officially approved souvenir coin, which being solid bronze gives it a link to the ancient, mysterious past, in a bronze kind of way.
Chuck, He'll be wanting that baby back. I'd start checking the yellow pages for some Elves and Dwarves pronto.
Thanks for sharing Major. You have a wealth of cool stuff.

MRaymond said...

Because of you I now know when and where a photo of my grandparents was taken. The T&P are in the background. So cool.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I do like little sculptural Trylon and Perisphere knickknacks; I’ve seen some collectors who specialize in those, and they have dozens and dozens. I have maybe six!

Lou and Sue, my sister used to have some Avon perfume decanters; maybe she still does? Although she’s not really a collector, my guess is that she got rid of them at some point. Her motto is “I care about people, not things”, which is admirable I guess! Storing the ring on the Trylon is genius. And I really DO have tons more stuff to share!

Melissa, it’s interesting, Bakelite items were often in warm colors such as butterscotch, red, yellow, orange, and a sort of olive green, although I do have some items that are vivid blue, purple, and even pink. Your Grandma’s cigarette case sounds pretty neat!

TokyoMagic!, you know how it is for collectors; anything “mint on card” (or “mint in box”) is always desirable. I could open the packages up, but I think I have those pins uncarded as well! Earrings, hmmm… I guess I’ll have to pierce my ears with a pin and a cork.

Chuck, I’m going to do a re-edit of “The Lord of the Rings” movies, only I’m going to replace every shot of the One Ring with this World’s Fair ring. It should only cost me a few million dollars to do it, but… so worth it.

Stu29573, I have another Trylon and Perisphere that is made entirely of red Bakelite, it’s pretty nice. You’ll see it here someday! I’m happy to say that I have never hit a skunk, but I have certainly smelled plenty of them. One time when I was a kid, I woke up at night, and a skunk must have sprayed something (or someone) right outside, because the stench was so powerful it literally was making me ill. It was like burning rubber!

DrGoat, I collected coins when I was a kid (nothing good, really, but it was my first collection), so those Fair medallions still appeal to me a lot. Bakelite has such a strong 1930s association that I love it for the nostalgia. I watched a video of a guy on YouTube trying to make Bakelite, and it came out lumpy and awful, I guess it’s not that easy to manufacture! Acid was involved, I believe. Now I want to watch the LOTR movies again (it’s been a while).

MRaymond, WOW, that IS cool! I’d love to see it if you happen to have it handy.

DrGoat said...

Major, you have a great collection, so I'd even like to see your "nothing good" stuff.
I want to see that edited version with the World's Fair ring. Especially the scene with Galadriel testing herself with Frodo's ring. She might not be able to resist with that fancy fair ring.
If you can, do the extended version of LOTR. There's a 50-50 chance I have two copies somewhere. I will check. If I do and you don't have the long version, I'll send it to you. If I do have two copies, it's one too many.
I decided I hadn't gone to the source material for decades, so I started reading it again. Just finished Fellowship.

JG said...

Cool things, Major. Thank you for sharing them.

My Mom used the term “sweater pin” also. They went to a 1939 Expo in California, on Treasure Island near San Francisco.

I don’t think I have any souvenirs, but I do have a photo of them there.

We do a Thanksgiving film binge every year; all the Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc. in a row. This year was LOTR. Took two days.


Melissa said...

”They went to a 1939 Expo in California, on Treasure Island near San Francisco.”

OMG, that line from “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” finally makes sense!

Here is Grover Whalen unveilin’ the Trylon,
Over on the West Coast, we have Treasure Island.

JC Shannon said...

A great treasure box/slash small collectable goodness. I have always wondered if there were remnants of the event lurking in the wilds of Flushing Meadow. I once found a panel from a B17 that crashed in 1943 while searching for a panel from a damaged 747. You just can't clean it all up. Every time I hear Lydia, I think of The Philadelphia Story. Thanks Major.

Irene said...

I also call them sweater pins and doing some Google searching I see that is what they are called there. There is also something called sweater clip. Same idea, holding the sweater around your shoulders w/o having to button it - or perhaps the sweater had no buttons, but in the case of a clip you would clip the device on one side rather than pinning it.

Great memorabilia for a fair that looked forward to a bright future but instead the U.S.'s involvement in WWII was just around the corner.

Major Pepperidge said...

DrGoat, I love my boxes of junk, but I guarantee my sister would be scratching her head. “Why do you keep this stuff?!”. Oh well that’s OK! Yes, Galadriel would suddenly find herself dressed in 1939 garb, complete with a big hat with a feather in it. I do have the extended versions of the LOTR movies! Haven’t watched them for a while, but it might be time. I seem to reread the books every 10 years or so, and I include “The Hobbit”. It mystifies me when I hear people saying, “I started to read those, but they’re so boring!”.

JG, you shared a small gold foil sticker and the parking voucher from your parent’s visit to the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition (way back in 2016). I think I would enjoy watching the Harry Potter series from beginning to end, but gosh, I tried to watch just “Return of the Jedi”, and couldn’t make it through. Much to my surprise.

Melissa, I know the song “Lydia (etc)…”, but it’s been a while since I have heard it. I don’t think I ever really thought about “the Trylon” or “Treasure Island”!

Jonathan, wait a minute, you found a panel from a B17? While looking for a panel from a 747? That sounds like a story!!

Irene, the twin “sweater pins” seem to have been at their peak popularity in the mid-to-late 1930s, and maybe into the 1940s. It seems like a little pin like that might put a strain on the cloth, so a clip makes more sense to me! Why didn’t they just use Gorilla Glue? ;-) It is sobering to think that the U.S. was about to be plunged into a second World War, just as the country was finally coming up for air after the Great Depression. Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

"Lou and Sue" said...

I once found a panel from a B17 that crashed in 1943 while searching for a panel from a damaged 747.

JC Shannon, PLEASE share more...lots more...

Dean Finder said...

I'm guessing that JC Shannon was sent on a search by the FAA or the airline after a 747 at LaGuardia or JFK was found to be missing a piece. I'd like to hear the rest of the story, too.

Chuck said...

I know I have two copies of the extended version of LOTR: one set I got on DVD when they first came out (we traditionally test every surround sound system with the prologue from Fellowship, and another on BluRay when that first came out. I also have at least two copies of the book series, one in paperback from about 1981 (my copy of The Hobbit is from 1979) and a hardbound, single-volume LOTR edition. I last read the series in 2014 on the 60th anniversary of its original publication, but I'm due for another run-through. It's just that awesome.

JG, my grandparents went to the '39-'40 SF Fair as well. I have one souvenir bookmark that was theirs, but I haven't seen it in almost 20 years, so I'm not sure where that is. We drove out to Yerba Buena/Treasure Island with them in 1976, but I didn't understand the significance at the time. I'm sure all of the WWII naval buildings made the place look drastically different from their previous trip.

And yes, Jonathan - I want to hear your story, too. Suddenly reminded of a call we fielded once in the US Strategic Command Global Operations Center. A farmer near Omaha had found an escape slide from a 747 laying in one of his fields and was wondering if it belonged to us. Upon inspection, it turned out one of the E-4s based at Offutt was missing one. Whoops!

Major Pepperidge said...

Lou and Sue, DITTO

Dean Finder, “JC Shannon… Finder of Lost Planes!”. Tonight on ABC.

Chuck, I wish I had the BluRay editions. I saw “Fellowship” at somebody’s house (of course I’d seen it in the theater already), and the surround sound was amazing, I kept looking behind me because I’d hear footsteps or rustling. Made me feel like a fool! Gosh, that single-volume edition of LOTR must be huge, unless the type is miniscule. Around the time the movies came out, I considered ponying up the money for a fancy hard-bound set, but never actually did it. Too bad you can’t find the souvenir bookmark, I’d like to know which one it is! There were at least half a dozen different examples, and probably more than that. How in the world would an escape slide wind up in a farmer’s field? Did it just blow away and nobody noticed?

JC Shannon said...

Ok, when I was an Accident Investigator and Flight Safety Superintendent at Offutt AFB in Nebraska in 1991, a civilian observed an object fall off of an E4B Nightwatch aircraft (President's doomsday plane) on final approach to runway 12. I organized a recovery operation across the highway from the threshhold. We were searching in a grid, when I came across a panel with the expected zinc chromate paint. It was corroded and I knew this could not be from the E4, but I also knew it was from an aircraft. Research showed that a B17G had impacted the ground short of the runway in bad weather during WW2. The panel had been lying on top of the ground for almost a half a century.

"Lou and Sue" said...

JC Shannon, what do you mean by “President’s doomsday plane”? Thank you for sharing your story! Any other interesting findings, during your career?

Boy is my office job boring.

Chuck said...

Major, the escape slide fell off the aircraft while in flight. If I'm remembering correctly, it was one of the overwing slides, and it didn't inflate. Most of the fuselage windows are blanked on the E-4, so nobody would have seen it fall off from inside the aircraft. The Battle Watch Commander I was on duty with when the call came in, an Air Force colonel who was a career E-4 pilot, was scratching his head as to how the maintenance crew missed the fact that it was missing after the plane landed.

JC, I think it's fascinating that that panel had been out there all that time and not been disturbed. A B-24 crashed on Trail Peak within Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in '43 or '44, and my crew hiked past what was left of the wreckage back in '86. There wasn't a whole lot of it left; what the AAF didn't salvage after the mishap had been pretty well picked over by souvenir hunters. It still shows up on Philmont trail maps, but I don't know how much is left anymore. We had treks scheduled in 2018 and 2020 that were both cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control that closed the camp for the whole summer (fire in 2018 and COVID this year), so I haven't been able to see its current condition myself.

Whatever happened to that panel you found?

Chuck said...

Sue, check this link for info on the National Airborne Emergency Operations Center (the "Doomsday Plane"): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_E-4.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thanks, Chuck!

JG said...

Glad I came back to this thread.

Fascinating story, Jonathan. Thanks Chuck for additional info and embellishments.

Major, thanks for reminding me of those items, completely forgot them. They will live forever on GDB! I could scan the pic of Mom and Dad if you like.

Chuck, neat that your grandparents went to that Fair. I’ve crossed the Bay Bridge hundreds of times and never visited Treasure Island.


JG said...

Melissa, glad to clear up those lyrics for you. For years I thought the Treasure Island Fair was the only one.

Irene, thanks for the pin reference. My Mom had a chain gadget with clips like you describe, but I don’t remember if it had a name.

She had a couple of little pins with “satellite” pins similar to the picture but I don’t know if she used them to hold a sweater on...