CRYSTAL PALACE-Original Porcelain Souvenir Lidded Box 1851 Crystal Palace #1204
Many factors affect the rarity of historical world’s fair (or any) items: The size of the fair and number of visitors and the number of souvenirs sold at the time. The 1893 Columbian Expo which has been the center of my study and writing for decades featured hundreds, even thousands, of such items; the first world’s fair in 1851 was tiny by comparison (it was housed in a single building, albeit the largest in the world at the time) and relatively few souvenirs were made and sold and thus the number of those that have survived is minuscule.
I have seen linens and such things as a fancy child’s plate and not much else. I was elated when I found this porcelain box that is immaculate. The original painting is in remarkable condition; it no doubt was stored for most of its existence. One would be happy to find such a piece with only half the original art remaining. The latch and hinge are original and sound. I suspect that if this piece was ever on display it was behind a china cabinet door where it remained untouched for perhaps 50-75 years; the rest of its time must have been wrapped in a cloth and stored away, passed down from generation to generation. 170 years is a long time and that would make the last owner at least the great, great, great grandchild of the 1851 fairgoer; perhaps there would be another “great” in there as well.