Medal: 1893 Chicago World Fair

 The 1893 World's Fair: Columbian Exposition (or the Chicago World's Fair) was a grand event that celebrated the 400th  anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World. It was attended by more than 27 million
people worldwide. The fair was spread out over 600 acres with nearly 200 buildings clad in white stucco, giving rise
to the name "The White City".

By the fair's end, 23,757 medals and diplomas were awarded to exhibitors for their contributions. Among them was James Walter Atkinson of Guelph Township, who received this medal (2014.13.1.03 ) for his entry of oats.

photograph of the World's Fair Medal

Caption: Medal from the 1893 World's Fair. 
Credit: WCMA, 2014.13.1.03.

Famed American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed the front of the medals, which features Christopher Columbus disembarking from his ship, the Santa Maria. The hooded man behind Columbus is believed to be a self-portrait of the artist. The back of the medal was designed by Charles E. Barber, the chief engraver at the United States Mint in Philadelphia.


James Atkinson also exhibited at the Guelph Central Show in September 1893, where he won awards for his potatoes, carrots and turnips. Atkinson farmed in Guelph Township near Marden, Lots 3 and 4, Division C.

Debuted at the fair was the Ferris wheel alongside many popular consumer products like Shredded Wheat, Cream of Wheat, and Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Visitors attended presentations; they strolled along the world's first moving sidewalk, and marveled at such exhibits as a 22,000 lb Mammoth Cheese displayed by the Canadian dairy farmers. There were over 250,000 displays and 70,000 exhibitors.

Stereograph - Illinois Building (from Lagoon at World's Fair) WCMA, ph 3420

Caption: Stereograph - Illinois Building (from Lagoon at World's Fair)
Credit: WCMA, ph 3420.

Stereograph - interior of Agriculture Building, WCMA ph 3421

Caption: Stereograph - interior of Agriculture Building
Credit: WCMA,  ph 3421.

To see more photographs of the World's Fair please visit The Chicago Field Museum.

© 2023 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909