The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Through Vintage Postcards

In the 1930’s, people were fascinated by technological advances. So it stands to reason that the motto of Chicago’s 1933 World’s Fair was “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms”. Throughout the fair visitors could find exhibits that replicated scientific discoveries and the inventions resulting from them.

$_57 (2)

Chicago ran the fair on Lake Michigan.

It honored the first Chicago World’s fair in 1893 by constructing a “Rainbow City” – an ode to the World’s Columbian Exposition’s “White City”. The Rainbow City featured late Art Deco-style architecture.

The fair also featured questionable displays, like a hall of incubators with real babies inside them. They wanted to feature this new, life saving incubator technology, but did they really have to put live babies inside them?

$_57 (1)

The fair introduced a Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition that showed what homes of the future would look like. With a growing interest in domestic ease in the U.S., the exhibition was a hit. Some homes even featured helicopter pads. Many people bought plans for the houses and later used them to construct their own.

The fair saw so much success that it had a second opening from May 26 to October 31, 1934.

The fair was remembered way past its 1934 end date. The city added a fourth red star to its flag to remember the exposition.

Collecting Pressed Coins

You’ve seen them around – at Disneyland, at amusement parks, at National Parks and museums.

The famous pressed penny machine just waits for you to give in to the temptation to create your own tiny souvenir with spare change.

The pressed coin will probably sit in your pocket and get lost in the wash a few days later, but hey, it was fun while it lasted.

Via "Coco" Mault on Flickr, every little kid's dream in a dinosaur park flattened coin.

Via “Coco” Mault on Flickr: every little kid’s dream in a dinosaur park coin.

But some collectors do favor these pressed, or elongated, coins, and keep them in their collections. They’re great for keeping memories of vacations or day trips.

Before the pressed penny machine, kids put pennies on railroad tracks for kicks in the hopes that passing trains would flatten them into an oval. Some then engraved the date into the pressed coin. (Rumors say this practice could derail a train, which has never been proven true – but it is risky for the person putting the penny on the tracks.)

An 1893 Columbian Exposition coin, one of the first elongated coins to be created.

An 1893 Columbian Exposition coin, one of the first elongated coins to be created.

The first actual penny pressing machine was at the World’s Columbian Exposition (the Chicago World’s Fair) in 1893, where visitors could press their pennies into various designs as souvenirs. They quickly gained popularity as visitors to the fair brought them back from their travels to show off to friends and family. Collectors can still find these coins today.

Via "Coco" Mault on Flickr.

A San Francisco Chinatown elongated coin, via “Coco” Mault on Flickr.

So how are elongated coins created? A penny, or more uncommonly another type of coin, is pressed between two highly pressured rollers. One of the rollers presses an engraved design into the coin.

Some question the legality of a pressed coin. While it is illegal to mutilate a coin for the purpose of counterfeiting, it is not illegal to change a coin for collecting purposes, without any intention of counterfeiting. So if you’re a fan of pressed coins, you have nothing to fear!

Do you own any pressed coins?


U.S. Coins

Numismatic Association