The Great Central Fair took place from June 7 to June 28 of 1864 in the Logan Circle Park in Philadelphia. It was inspired by past sanitary fairs that happened throughout the United States to raise funds for the United States Sanitary Commission. The main exhibit building was 200,000 square feet in size and designed by Samuel Honeyman Kneass and William Stickland. There was also Union Street, which was 540 feet long and ran in the middle of the fair. Inside the main building were "departments" with different themes. Themes included the neighboring states of New Jersey and Delaware, themes about corn and sewing, a restaurant and parlor, as well as weaponry, fine art, curiosities, transportation and children's subjects.
This bronze medal was struck to commemorate the Great Central Fair. The dies were designed by Anthony C. Paquet, who worked for the United States Mint as an assistant engraver from 1857-1864. After 1864 he returned to the private sector but continued to do important commissions for the government. On the outer rim of the obverse of the medal was engraved these words "WE FIVE OUR WEALTH FOR THOSE WHO GIVE THEIR HEALTH FOR US". A female classical figure is holding a horn of plenty and handing a chalice to one soldier that is seated. Two soldiers are depicted in the center (one is reclining, and one is seated wearing a cap reaching towards the chalice). The reverse bears the eight-line inscription: IN COMMEMORATION | OF THE | GREAT CENTRAL FAIR | FOR THE | U.S. SANITARY COMMISSION | HELD AT | PHILADELPHIA | JUNE 1864. The medallion measures 2 ¼” and is housed in its original blue velvet lined leatherette case. On June 16, Abraham Lincoln and his family visited the fair. He donated 48 copies of the Emancipation Proclamation at $10 a book. They were all autographed by Lincoln. The festival raised over $1 million.
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Inventory Number: MIS 144