New Display - Ephemera from the 1894 California Midwinter Fair | Mechanics' Institute

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New Display - Ephemera from the 1894 California Midwinter Fair

The California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894, more commonly known as the California Midwinter Fair, was the brainchild of Michael H. deYoung, the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle and a commissioner of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  DeYoung was inspired by the great success of the Columbian Exposition and wanted San Francisco to benefit from the public’s desire for this kind of extravaganza.  His idea was to transport all of the exhibits, performers, and concessions from the Chicago fair to San Francisco and add other California-inspired attractions.  Not only was deYoung able to raise the funding and get the necessary approvals in record time,  but they were able to open the California Midwinter Fair only a few months after the Columbian Exposition closed in Chicago.

Ed Herny, the current president of the SF Bay Area Post Card Club and a member of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Historical Society, has been collecting ephemera from the California Midwinter Fair since 1972.  His collection is comprised of a wide-ranging array of objects, souvenirs, photos, and paper-based items.

The most interesting section of the exhibit consists of the "three dimensional objects", including some that are rarely seen: wooden harmonica, table bell, mechanical puzzle, glass jewel caskets, and reverse decorated glass plaques.   These objects are in the glass, side cabinets of the 2nd floor archival display case and will remain on display until September 11th.

The other items, in the flat, horizontal display cases will be "rotated" each month and will include:

  • April 13th - May 15th - Photographs and brochures
  • May 15th - June 26th   - Tickets & passes, trade cards, ribbons, silk hankies, sheet music
  • June 26th  - August 1st  - Postcards, postal history covers, letter sheets
  • August 1st  - September 11th  -  Souvenir spoons, award medals, badges, jewelry

If you are interested in a more in-depth exploration of the collection, please join Ed on Saturday, April 13th from 1:00-3:00pm, in the 2nd floor Library, when he will be available to answer your questions and show you these fascinating objects up close and personal.

Posted on Apr. 10, 2019 by Diane Lai