Thursday, June 15, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 303

Fountain of Ceres at the Pan Pac Expo San Francisco 1915
Edward H. Mitchell

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915 served a two-fold purpose as it provided an opportunity for the city to show how it had recovered from the 1906 earthquake and also to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal.  Both of the postcards shared this week were found in a local antique mall. 

There were at least two publishers of postcards for this Fair.  The card above features a postcard published by Edward H. Mitchell of San Francisco.  Mitchell was one of the earliest publishers of postcards in the United States with over 3,000 cards identified so far and updates to this list still occurring.  His cards have been collected and studied since the end of the 19th century.  He began publishing undivided postcards in San Francisco before the earthquake and fire in 1906 destroyed his printing operation and then continued to work out of his home until he built a plant and warehouse on Army Street. Many of Mitchell’s cards feature views of San Francisco and the West as well as a series on the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands.  His cards had high quality real photo views, comics, artistic designs and California fruits and vegetables.  The Mitchell card shared this week has a message written on the reverse but does not have a stamp and was either never mailed or mailed in an envelope.  At the lower right corner there is what looks like a partial identification number but not enough of the printing is visible to make a determination.

Just like the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held in Seattle, the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco had a designated official photographer.  In the case of the P.P.I.E. it was the Cardinell-Vincent Company which published the unused card below.  Cardinell-Vincent employed over 150 people for the P.P.I.E. and had photographic galleries on the grounds.  The postcards published by this company had “Official Postcard” and a Fair logo printed on the reverse; however, several logos were used for this exposition so it is hard to tell if the company selected one from the several or designed their own logo.  At the lower right corner there is a code C30.  

 Niche in Court of Four Seasons, showing Autumn in Place
Pan-Pac. Int Exposition, San Francisco, 1915
Cardinell-Vincent Co. Pub.


Also like the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo the buildings constructed for the Panama Pacific International Expo were made of temporary materials called “staff” composed of plaster and burlap fiber.  Almost all the buildings and attractions were taken down in late 1915 after the fair closed.  One of the surviving buildings is the Palace of Fine Arts designed by architect Bernard Maybeck.  The Palace was completely reconstructed in the 1960s and retrofitted for earthquakes in 2009.  The Exloratorium, an interactive science museum, called part of the Palace of Fine Arts home from 1969 to 2013 before re-locating to newer facilities at piers 15 and 17.

The fair grounds covered approximately 300 acres along the Bayside Marina district of San Francisco.  There were palaces, towers, gardens, fountains and other attractions creating what was known as a city of domes.  The amusement park was called The Zone.   Other things surviving things include a Japanese Tea House that was moved by barge down to Belmont, California and now houses a restaurant.  Some 1/3 scale steam locomotives from the Overfair Railroad that operated during the expo and later became the property of the Swanton Pacific Railroad Society and were moved the Swanton Ranch as part of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  The expo opened on 4 February 1915 and closed 4 December of the same year.   A set of four postage stamps commemorating the exposition was first on sale in 1913 and then reissued in 1914 and 1915.  The San Francisco Mint was authorized to issue a series of five commemorative coins.  The 100th anniversary of the fair was held at the Palace of Fine Arts on 20 June 2015. 

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