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Worlds Fairs: Buffalo 1901

Buffalo, New York

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: worlds fair | bureau international des expositions | bie | buffalo |
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[Buffalo 1901 World Fair] image by Dave Martucci, 23 January 2019

See also:

1901 Worlds Fair flag

The official flag of the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. (This is where President William McKinley was assassinated.) The flag was reissued in 2001 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Exposition.
Erik Bell, 20 November 2003

Erm, see anything familiar on this page of Doing the Pan.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 30 December 2014

I have reviewed a number of flags and flag images on souvenir items and have come to the conclusion there were plenty of variants. The design as initially introduced is best described in the news release published in several papers on 1 May 1901 that read as follows:

(this copy from the Buffalo Evening Times, 1 May 1901, page 7.)

The design for the flag of the Exposition is as follows:

The flag itself is of the same proportions as to the United States ensign, and the principal colors the same, viz.: red, white and blue. It is divided into two triangular fields by a broad white band running traversely [sic] from the upper outer to the lower inner corner.

The upper, or inner field, is dark blue, upon which is imposed a single white five-pointed star (the Pole Star), and is symbolical of the Northern or colder climes.

The lower, or outer field, is red and has imposed thereon five smaller five-pointed stars in white, arranged in the form of a Roman cross (Southern cross), and typifying the Southern and warmer parts of the Americas.

On the broad white band uniting the two fields is imposed an American eagle displayed (spread), its head surrounded by the sun rays of the Aztecs and Incas and grasping in its talons a green scroll (the colors of Mexico, Brazil and other South American republics), on which is inscribed the word "Pax" (Peace), which at the same time forms an abbreviation of Pan-American Exposition, and the date 1901.

The flag was selected from some three hundred designs submitted, and is the work of Miss Adelaide J. Thorpe, assistant color director in charge of the interior decorations at the Exposition.
Some of the news accounts were accompanied by a crude "cut" of the flag that gave the design as shown at the top of this page. Note the large star on the blue field points straight up and the Southern Cross is a low on the field.

However, other items show the large star as "tilted" towards the upper hoist and with the Southern cross stars forming more of a regular cross. The flag that is claimed to have been flying on the day President McKinley was assassinated looks like this:

[Buffalo 1901 World Fair] image by Dave Martucci, 23 January 2019

Source: Collection of William Olson of St. Paul MN as described in the Minneapolis Star, 17 December 1963, page 4B.

Similar but with the big star straight up and all of the stars of the Southern Cross also straight up, a number of souvenir items easily found on line have flag images that look like this:

[Buffalo 1901 World Fair] image by Dave Martucci, 23 January 2019

Perhaps all of these variations are a result of the granting of permission to use and make the flag to anyone who wished to do so by the governing board "provided they use the copyright stamp". This was reported, for example, in the Buffalo Review, 5 March 1901, page 5.

At least one copy with the word "Pax" changed to "P.A.X." was made because the manufacturer did not recognize the word and took the reference to it being "an abbreviation of Pan-American Exposition" too seriously, as reported in The Daily Inter Mountain of Butte, Montana, 28 March 1901, page 4, which may have inspired the language that was later reported as to its meaning.
Dave Martucci, 23 January 2019