Item #8046 Pan-American Exposition 1901 Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.A. Raphael Beck, artist, Pan-American Exposition Co.

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Pan-American Exposition 1901 Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.A.

Buffalo, New York: Niagara Lith. Co., 1899-1901. Embossed chromolithograph, 14.4” x 12.4” plus margins. CONDITION: Very good, upper and lower right corners creased, light soiling to margins.

A rare and very attractive chromolithograph of Raphael Beck’s popular western hemisphere map logo for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.

Beck’s art nouveau design portrays North and South America as two young women whose flowing robes form the shapes of their respective continents and whose clasped hands over Central America signify their cultural and economic ties. South America wears red robes and her dark hair is set off by a gold star above her forehead, while North America, wearing yellow to blend with her blond hair, wears the red Phrygian cap, a symbol of freedom. As PJ Mode notes, Beck’s models for the design were “selected in a contest by the New York World to find ‘the most representatively beautiful women in America’” (“Pan-American Exposition”). The winners were Maxine Elliot (“too well known as the most beautiful woman on the stage to need further introduction to the public”), as South America, and Maude Coleman Woods (“honored as the leading beauty of Virginia, her native state, by the Daughters of the Confederacy”) as North America (“Pan-American Emblem”). Beck’s design was selected by the Pan-American Exposition Company from among some four hundred competition entries, and soon became the most widely-recognized symbol of the 1901 world’s fair. Although the committee originally intended it to be used only for “dignified purposes,” it proved so popular—and so profitable—that it soon appeared on “everything that didn’t move and some things that did” (“Oh that logo”). This is one of at least two versions of the logo. In another example we have handled the image is not embossed, is rotated somewhat clockwise with North America in the 12 o’clock position, and the sheet does not bear a lithographer’s credit.

The organization of the Pan-American Exposition was initially delayed due to the outbreak of the Spanish American War, and ultimately took place from May 1st to November 2nd, 1901, in Buffalo, New York. The centerpiece of the fair was its Electric Tower, which was filmed both by day and by night by Thomas Edison, who called its exterior illumination and bright searchlights a “great emotional climax.” The Exposition is best remembered, however, as the site of President McKinley’s assassination. McKinley gave an address on September 5th, and was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz the following day while visiting the Temple of Music. Although an X-Ray machine was featured at the fair, its effects were too little known for doctors to feel comfortable using it to find McKinley’s bullet, and the emergency hospital was, incongruously, not supplied with electric lighting.

Raphael Beck (1858–1947) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and studied art in Europe for two years after learning from his artist father. Beck eventually established a studio in Buffalo, New York, and became a successful artist across numerous mediums. In addition to that of the Pan-American Exposition, Beck won two other prominent World’s Fair competitions, designing logos for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis and the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon. Beck made sketches of McKinley during the president’s visit to the Pan-American Exposition, and his President McKinley Delivering His Last Great Speech at the Pan-American Exposition, Sept. 5, 1901 was the last portrait of McKinley painted from life.

No copies recorded in OCLC.

REFERENCES: “Pan-American Emblem” at PanAm1901 online; “Pan-American Exposition”#2238.01 at Persuasive Cartography: The PJ Mode Collection, Cornell University Library online; “Pan-American Exposition by night” at the Library of Congress online; “Oh that logo” at Shorpy online.

Item #8046


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