History of Souvenir Buildings

In the Spring and Fall – Winter 1995 editions of the Souvenir Building Collector, Dave Forman authored the 2 part “MAGNIFICENT MINIATURES: A History of Souvenir Buildings.”

Photo of Trylon and Perisphere souvenir building

Trylon and Perisphere Miniature Building from 1939 New York World’s Fair

He told how his “first souvenir building was a family heirloom my grandparents bought for fifty cents. It was a gleaming blue and white Trylon and Perisphere they brought back from their visit to the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Sleek and elegant, the metal miniature symbolized a promising vision of the future. Little did I know, when it eventually was passed down to me, the enormous role it would play in my own future.” Dave went on to describe how this initial replica became the foundation of his collection, which in 1995 numbered over 500. “Cathedrals, skyscrapers, monuments, museums, towers, spires and landmarks. They are tacky and elegant, crude and highly detailed, mundane and fantastic.” His “history” covered primarily the history of souvenir buildings in the United States starting with the penny bank replica of Independence Hall sold at the 1876 Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia and ending (remember his article is from 1995) with the observation that “Today building replicas are noticeably absent from the souvenir shops in airports and tourist attractions.” 1876 – Centennial Celebration, Philadelphia 1886 – Statue of Liberty, New York 1893 – World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1920’s & 30’s – Many replicas as company favors, commemoratives 1950’s – Tourist items from travel in the USA

The article describes some of the major manufacturers of “magnificent miniatures” as well as some of the interesting miniatures and the forms they come in – thermometers, salt & pepper shakers, cigarette lighters, etc. Click here to purchase copies of Vol 2, No 1 & 2, of Souvenir Building Collector, Journal of the Souvenir Building Collectors Society.

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