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May04

my 1964-65 NY World’s Fair collection

The New York 1964-65 World’s Fair | Flushing Meadow, Queens

So I know a lot of my friends think me insane for this ever-growing collection, but i’d like to give you a little background on the WHY behind it all.

Growing up in Queens just minutes from where the fair was held, the Unisphere was something I always saw – practically on a weekly basis. I used to go ice skating there (when there was an indoor rink) once a week. Despite my skating skills never improving and once falling & crying loud enough that the whole rink stopped to come over to look (–not TOO embarrassing but I sprained my ankle) I still always looked forward to going. There was something just so COOL about that giant globe which you have no doubt seen on your way to Citi Field or LaGuardia Airport.

To add to that, some of my first memories are tiny little snippets of actually GOING to the fair when I must have been around 3 years old (do the math, figure out my age and you get a gold star.) I recall the helicopter ride, the puppet show (which gave me the creeps ), The Tower Of The Four Winds (perhaps fueling my Disney obsession as well?) and little bit of Futurama.

I used to look through the guide book my parents saved over and over reading all about the exhibits, always hoping it would somehow all reappear. Through the years I kept those guide books, as well as a few minor souvenir items.

Flash forward to around 1996 when eBay was in its infancy. I would spend HOURS obsessed thinking about random items or old toys I had and discovering them on there. One day somehow I came across World’s Fair items, and the lunacy began. Hundreds and hundreds of things i’d never seen before all right there on eBay in one giant list! It was like discovering a hidden treasure chest.

Shortly after that I started going to Brimfield in MA about twice a year to go antique shopping. There I would fine World’s Fair pieces hidden amongst the glassware and paper goods, my eyes becoming trained to search out the signature Orange and Aqua colors.

As my collection slowly grew, I found out about a show held every Memorial Day weekend at a hotel in Queens put on by the World’s Fair collectors society. As much cool stuff as I thought I had, going to this put my collection to shame. Here were hundreds of item, many of them rare one-of-a-kind pieces, the likes of which i’d never seen before. This event sparked my interest in hunting out ‘oddball’ pieces; ones that were not as easy to find as the postcards and glassware that seemed plentiful.

In recent years I have slowed down on this habit, since I have SO much and generally only buy things that are, at least to me, pretty unusual. When I bought this house 10 years ago, I told myself that while I wanted to display everything, I didn’t want it spread all over the house like a hoarder. I carved out a little cabinets worth of space in my living room and until just recently that display went untouched.

Realizing that I basically had NO idea HOW much stuff I really had (there was a bin of even MORE in the attic), I disassembled my semi-permanent display (it REALLY needing cleaning too and was pretty gross) and decided to photograph it all, the result of which you see here.

There is quite a bit here and i’ll explain some of them as needed – but I hope you get a kick out of this trip into the past as much as I do!

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a super cute pop-up book.

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unused sheet of stamps

 

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this was a piece my Grandmother actually had!

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believe it or not this is supposed to be used for crackers of all things!

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this was a personal favorite as a kid (this is a re-purchased one as mine got a hole in it and wouldn’t hold air)

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I should show up at a wedding with this.

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the black plates are cool since they’re a matching front/back set.

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I’m not sure WHAT you;re supposed to be stirring with these little pitchforks.

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now THIS I feel guilty about. The NY State Pavilion still  designed by Philip Johnson stands as a crumbling ruin, yet has a loyal group of volunteers attempting to restore it. There is even a Facebook group behind the effort. There have been rumors about it becoming a air and space museum, outdoor concert space etc etc. Apparently its unsafe for use as it is, but would cost more to tear down–so it stands unused and decaying. Anyway, back in the early 90’s you could still wander around inside if you got lucky, and these are a few loose pieces I found that were from the original huge map (which was the entire floor of the space) of NY State.

So now I feel bad that I snagged a couple of piece knowing how hard they are in trying to restore it!!

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I swear I can still remember the smell of hot plastic as the machine pressed these out for you on demand!

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pretty hideous salad tongs and weird little cocktail picks

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this is actually a bank – you put a coin in and it SHOT it up into the Unisphere!

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this was one of those collectors society finds I longed or and finally got. At the time I probably paid close to over $200 for this.

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this was not inexpensive either!

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note the WF logo on the back of the bus.

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these guys I picked up in Maine!

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still sealed napkins and coasters.

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another pretty ugly item.

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how cute is this? A child’s clip on bow tie.

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unused paper placemat.

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an entire box of matches.

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some random pins. The Futurama one is unused.

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I have a feeling this may be a knockoff–it’s in too good a shape.

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this game is cool but looks incredible boring!

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this I don’t want to fully assemble since it would be kind if ruined, but its a paper 3-d ‘pop-up’ board game.

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this is one of those weird pens where when you tip it the thing inside the liquid moves. You have probably seen the saucy ones where the woman top comes off!

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now I know this is silver plate since it tarnishes really quickly, but the thing is you can’t tell from the photo is that it’s REALLY small – like maybe 4 inches. So i’m uncertain as to whether it’s for condiments or an incredibly small child.

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another vinyl tote bag.

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so this was a toy I had as a kid and LOVED. Sadly mine disappeared (as in got thrown away) so this is an eBay find I probably paid WAY too much for.

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now this I had been hunting for practically FOREVER. It’s one of the metal signs used on the highway to direct people to the fair. Many of them had arrows painted on them (to designate exits), so i’m not sure if this was was somehow unused so simply a sort of guidepost one.

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boy scout scarf.

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this is rather large–maybe 2 foot across or so.

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so the guidebook on the left is the TWA one my Dad got from work that I used to look through for hours. What a strange child I was….

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this is kinda cool as that’s my Moms writing on the top one.

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that’s me on the right having drinks at the fair 🙂

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quite the elaborate Futurama souvenir book!

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who’s up for Hot Dutch Tuna Buns?!

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unused paper bags and a shopping bag.

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I know everybody says they HATE this song but I must have played this 45rpm a gazillion times.

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a silk (or polyester perhaps) ladies scarf.

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one of those awful linen ‘towel’ calendars.

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this is cool and pretty new to the collection – a child’s umbrella. (I guess kids then were too weak for full-sized)

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lots and LOTS of postcards!

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So there you have it – in probably more detail then you care to witness. If you are at ALL interested THIS SITE is incredibly comprehensive in regards to everything World’s Fair!

4 Comments

  1. Gail Savage O'Connell

    Very nicely done! As a former employee of the New York 1964/1965 World’s Fair while a student in College (as a “Golden Girl”, named for the color of our uniforms & serving as Fair Tour Guide & Information Booth Staffer), I enjoyed the trip down memory lane & viewing all the mementos!

  2. Jeff

    Great collection. I went 13 times and still have a box of memorabilia. Want to buy my Heinz pickle pin or irradiated dime? – Jeff

  3. John Rainwater

    Just found what I assume is a bracelet charm while cleaning out the rust/insulation/carpet from under the backseat of the 1966 Olds Starfire I am restoring. I didn’t see one in your collection.

    1. robert

      Oh gosh no–I don’t think I have one of those!!!

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