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27 Jan 2017

1894 California Midwinter International Exposition Souvenir

Exonumia | wdhyder

One other purchase from Inauguration Day in San Jose was a token (I call it a souvenir medal) from the 1894 California Midwinter fair that I have been seeking over the past five or six years. It is attributed to the 1893 Chicago Exposition in the transportation catalogs (Good for One Ride) with the asterisk acknowledgement that it might be San Francisco. San Francisco was considered a maybe because there was no record of camel rides or the Dahomey Village at the Midwinter Exposition. In fact, two gentlemen formed a partnership to bring a number of the Midway attractions to California including the Streets of Cairo with the camel rides and the Dahomey Village.We discussed the evidence or lack thereof among members of the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society and I was challenged for my proof. Here it is:1) The token is signed by L.H. Moise, S.F. Moise was the manager of Klinkner's business which included striking tokens and medals (although unsigned medals were likely struck elsewhere). Klinkner died in early 1893 and Moise took most of the staff and opened his own business (in the same building) when Klinkner's wife refused to sell him the business on his terms. He later bought her out in late 1897. I am comfortable in saying that a Chicago Midway company would not have come to California to have a medal struck for their business in Chicago shortly before the fair closed. Moise did strike another souvenir medal for the Midwinter Fair copying Charles Barber's official medal for the Midwinter Fair.2) Why no mention of the Dahomey Village at the Midwinter Fair? The thought that the Dahomey Village did not move to San Francisco was simply a problem in looking one place for evidence and missing other sources. The San Francisco Chronicle had a multi-page description of everything at the fair on opening day and the article did not mention the village. My sources are the official guidebook to the fair and the official final report of the fair which includes many images not generally available elsewhere. I have included the entry for the Dahomey Village from the guidebook as an image here. It cost 25¢ to visit the village.3) Why no mention of camel rides? I have included an illustration of a happy camel from the guidebook. There are several pictures of the camels in the final report as well. True, the camels are just sitting or standing so how do I know they were used for rides? Two stories in the San Francisco Chronicle in March of 1894 talk about children looking forward to or enjoying the camel rides. It is an easy story to miss.So is this a transportation token? It is the same size as Moise's version of the official medal and it shares a design "style" that was used on later Moise souvenirs for California events. At 34mm it is very large to have been used as a transportation token. I believe it is what it says on the reverse, a souvenir of one's visit to the fair. Maybe its purchase entitled one to a camel ride, but I doubt one would want to surrender a cool souvenir in exchange for a ride. It would have been an expensive option for ticket sales and cumbersome to handle when paper tickets would be more efficient and easier to use. Another example of the great day I had at the San Jose Coin Show.

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