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Attending the Philadelphia Sanitary Fair in the Summer of 1864
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Two tickets to the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia. One admitted a pupil of the public schools of Philadelphia and was used on Saturday, June 11, according to the stamp on the verso. The other is an apparently unused “Season Ticket” that admitted the bearer “To All Parts of the Fair,” except the Children’s Exhibitions but was “Forfeited if Transferred and Not Good unless Endorsed.” The verso includes the oath, “I hereby promise that this Ticket shall be used to obtain admission to the Fair by myself only” and a blank line for a signature.

[CIVIL WAR]. Great Central Fair Tickets, June 1864. Pair of passes for the Great Central Fair, held in Philadelphia, June 7-28, 1864. One ticket is for one day’s admission for a public school student. The other is a season ticket. 1 p. each, 3½ x 2¼ and 3½ x 2 in.

Inventory #24202       Price: $950

Historical Background

During the Civil War, several northern cities hosted sanitary fairs between 1863 and 1865 to raise money for the care of wounded soldiers. The Great Central Fair, held at Logan Square in Philadelphia in June 1864, was a fundraiser for the United States Sanitary Commission and was one of the largest fairs. The main exhibit building, constructed in forty working days by local volunteer skilled labor, enclosed 200,000 square feet. It featured nearly one hundred departments offering a broad range of displays from Arms and Trophies to Fine Arts to Umbrellas and Canes. Curiosities included a $1,000 doll house, a recreated parlor of William Penn with Penn artifacts, the boat used by Arctic explorer Elisha Kent Kane, and George Washington’s carriage.

Over three weeks, the fair welcomed more than 400,000 visitors. The season ticket offered here cost $5, a week’s pay for a day laborer or a domestic, and several days’ wages for skilled workers. The fair served more than 9,000 meals per day in its restaurant and had a daily newspaper with descriptions of the various departments. During its existence, the fair raised approximately $1 million for the Sanitary Commission, second only to New York City in money raised.

President Abraham Lincoln attended the fair with his family on June 16. He also donated forty-eight signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation (printed under the auspices of George Boker of the Union League), which were sold for $10 each.

Condition

Both have glue discolored on the reverse sides. The smaller card has a 1" edge tear on the right side, neatly repaired with archival tape.


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