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World’s Fair Memorabilia on eBay, Volume One

The Dap Corner

By Dapwell

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Decades ago, people from all over the world would gather in one city to marvel at the finest pre-digital creations ofthe age. They called these gatherings the World’s Fair. Two were held in the neighborhood of Flushing (in my home borough of Queens, New York) in the last century, one in 1939 and one in 1964.

The first World’s Fair featured the “trylon and perisphere” as its theme. Inside a giant sphere that you could walk into was a diorama of a utopian future-city known as “Democracity.” I’m sure it was all very stupid and ridiculous. The trylon and perisphere were destroyed after the World’s Fair.

The second one in Queens featured the unisphere, which still stands today, as evidenced by its inclusion in the opening credits of the stunning, critically acclaimed Kevin James comedic tour de force “King of Queens.” It’s nice to know that even in Queens, the “king” is a white dude. The unisphere stands where the old trylon and perisphere once was. The rings around the globe represent the orbits of the first two men in space, and the first communications satellite.

Out of boredom (and a slight sense of guilt over living in Brooklyn), I have begun collecting small amounts of World’s Fair memorabilia, which I have found is surprisingly cheap and plentiful on eBay. Apparently not many people want to collect bits and pieces of history from these weirdly earnest, optimistic events in American history. After the first Queens-based World's Fair, the United States would emerge from World War 2 as an undisputed “superpower" and begin the process of road-building, destruction of public transportation, suburban sprawl, etc. that’s now led the country to being sucky and played out. There were giant exhibits called “Futurama” and time capsules being buried (not meant to be opened for 5000 years). The theme of the 1939 World’s Fair was “Building The World of Tomorrow.” Imagine anyone saying that now, outside of a dystopian-future movie?

Here is a list of items currently on eBay that I am thinking of adding to my growing collection. All prices and remaining time listings are as of the writing of this article.›

THREE 1939 NY WORLD'S FAIR MATCHBOOKS

CURRENT PRICE: $26 (4 bids)
REMAINING TIME: 1 hour

This would be for the more hardcore collector. What am I supposed to do with these? Display a bunch of matchbooks somewhere in my apartment? Inevitably I’d get fucked up, want to smoke a cigarette, not find a light and end up using these. That being said, these are some gorgeous matchbooks.

My verdict: no go.


1939-40 WORLD'S FAIR SCRAPBOOK FILLED WITH VINTAGE ARTICLES COMPILED BY MY MOM

CURRENT PRICE: $99.99 (0 bids)
REMAINING TIME: 4 days

That’s quite a description. It’s nice to know that whoever is auctioning off their mother’s precious childhood scrapbook wants less than a hundred dollars for it. Once again, I’m not sure what I would do with this. My plan: concoct a fake story about it. Since there’s no way I could pretend it was my mother’s (too young) or grandmother’s (living in India), I’d have to stretch a bit. I would say that it was my old best friend’s father’s scrapbook. He was an investor in Rye Playland and we would get to ride all the rides for free. He also worked at Nintendo and I got all the games before anyone else.

My verdict: go.


1939 NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR WM ROGERS SILVERWARE 44 PIECE SET

CURRENT PRICE: $49.95 (0 bids)
REMAINING TIME: 3 days

I have no idea how I acquired any of the silverware or flatware in my house. Other than a set of bowls I bought off a dude on Craigslist six years ago when I was bored, I don’t recall ever going out of my way to buy shit to eat with or on. This set here would be one-stop shopping for me to jettison directly into the heart of the new American elite.

A cursory search for WM Rogers reveals that a company named William Rogers produced silver pieces in the early part of the the 20th Century. If I change that to the 19th century when I’m telling people about my fancy new forks it all starts sounding real legitimate. Also, how much does a new silverware set cost anyway? It couldn’t be much cheaper than this, and I HIGHLY DOUBT they’d bear the WM Rogers mark.

My verdict: go.

 

1939 NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR TIME FOR SARAKA PIN

CURRENT PRICE: $14.99 (0 bids)
REMAINING TIME: 29 days

Right off the bat, this has a racist vibe to it, which appeals to me (in this one instance). A little digging reveals that Saraka was a brand of laxative powder that was advertised with a series of totally racist cartoons. Since the image is of a turbaned, mustachioed brown man, I feel it is within my purview to “reclaim” this image for my people. Primarily, I just think it’s hilarious.

My verdict: go.

 

1964-1965 NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR SOUVENIR COLLECTOR PLATE

CURRENT PRICE: $3.98 (0 bids)
REMAINING TIME: 1 hour

I don’t understand plates that are sold to be displayed. what are you supposed to do with them, put them on a stand? Wouldn’t that make them small, mass-manufactured paintings done on porcelain that will smash into pieces if dropped? I might consider buying this to be my “main” eating plate. I’ll wash it immediately after every meal and nobody else is allowed to eat off it. Or I would if it had gold trim.

My verdict: no go.

 

VINTAGE ORIGINAL LARGE 1964-1965 NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR PENNANT FLAG BANNER

CURRENT PRICE: 24.99 (0 Bids)
TIME REMAINING: 8 days

Nice sandals, dog.

My verdict: no go (on the sandals).

 

Dapwell loves the fair. He's on Twitter @dapwell

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