What’s New in our Making A Museum Exhibit? 1964 World’s Fair Souvenir Pins

These two souvenir pins come to us as a generous donation from Lindsay McGuire of Belfast, Maine. On her recent visit to the City Reliquary, she was reminded of her childhood visit to the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens and was inspired to donate these souvenir pins to our collection.

Both of these pins were distributed at the General Cigar Company building. The White Owl was the animal namesake of one of General Cigar’s brands, and a special White Owl New Yorker cigar was sold: “A cigar that’s the very essence of New York, and the great new Fair,” according to the advertisements. The Smoke Ring refers to a mechanism outside the General Cigar building at the Fair that sent a plume of white smoke into the sky every few minutes, thus providing a notable landmark for visitors to meet by. Visitor accounts are divided as to whether the smoke successfully formed visible rings as was intended.

One of Lindsay’s most vivid recollections of the Fair is the typo – a repeated “the” – on the Smoke Ring badge. (Did you notice it?) In addition to the smoke rings (or plumes), the General Cigar building housed a Hall of Magic in which performers showed off many illusions and tricks. One of these illusions is the repeated word “the” on the smoke ring pin, which our eyes very commonly skip over because it is separated by a line break. The General Cigar Hall of Magic urged visitors to try it on their friends!

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