Uncle Sam and The World's Columbian Exposition

Uncle Sam and Columbia Host the 1893 Chicago World's Fair


By Doug Boilesen 2022

Uncle Sam and Columbia were symbols and hosts representing the United States at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893.

The following are some of the products that Uncle Sam promoted as seen in their respective 1893 World's Fair trade cards. This promotional role by Uncle Sam circa 1893 also shows his growing presence in politics, commerce and popular culture.


Trade card for Re:Marks Solid Comfort


Trade card for F&W Co., Stoves


"Uncle Sam, standing upon a huge ball or globe advertising for F & W. Co. Guaranteed Stoves," The Metal Worker, August 5, 1893 (Courtesy of Allen Koenigsberg)


Uncle Sam Promoting Hub Gore, Makers of Elastic for Shoes

Of all the trade cards that have an association with the 1893 Exposition and Uncle Sam, the Hub Gore cards are obviously the most interesting to Friends of the Phonograph since there actually was an exhibit at the fair which did feature an effigy of Uncle Sam "speaking" his Hub Gore sales message by means of an Edison Phonograph. For that story and related details see the Antique Phonograph's Rest about 10 seconds between speeches.” The Uncle Sam Mystery at the 1893 World’s Fair by Allen Koenigsberg, March 2023.

There are currently four Hub Gore trade cards showing Uncle Sam promoting Hub Gore shoes at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (none of which was released during the Exposition). All of those trade cards are basically the same colored lithograph with the exception of the last version using white lettering in its red heart trade-mark.


This Beacon Lith Co. Boston trade card showing Uncle Sam promoting Hub Gore shoes at the 1893 Columbian Exposition with the automaton using an Edison Phonograph to "talk" is the earliest of the four Hub Gore trade cards (Beacon Lith Co. Boston, March,1894) (PM-0650). As noted in Koenigberg's "The Uncle Sam Mystery at the 1893 World's Fair" this date is established by the announcement in the one-time Exposition Issue of the trade journal Boot and Leather Reporter (March 1, 1894) that this "superbly colored" lithographed card is "now being supplied to all manufacturers who put them in their cartons." Ibid.



The other three cards include the Armstrong & Co. Lith. Boston (below); the unidentified lithograph company (which also used black lettering for the "Hub Gore A" red heart trade mark); and the Armstrong, Moore Co. Boston lithographed card which used white lettering for the "Hub Gore A" red trade mark.


Hub Gore Trade Card " (Armstrong & Co. Lith. Boston)


Trade card with no lithographer company identified.




This trade card (Armstrong, Moore Co. Boston) used white lettering for the "Hub Gore A" red Trademark and is the last version issued.



Trade card for Berry Bros. Hard Oil Finish (Henry Seibert & Bro. N.Y., 1893. (The National Museum of American History)


An advertisement by James B. Campbell for the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. (Chicago History Museum)


Trade card for The Everett Piano, The John Church Co., ©1892.



Trade card for Rubber Paint Company, The Milwaukee Litho & Ewor., Co.


Story & Clark Organ Co., 1893 Columbian Exposition ad (Flickr)


Uncle Sam Turning the Crank

Trade card for Enterprise Meat Choppers, Donaldson Brothers Litho, New York ©1893. (The Library Company of Philadelphia)

This Enterprise Meat Chopper being cranked by Uncle Sam is the multiple degrees of separation endpoint of a 'string' connecting Uncle Sam turning the crank and promoting Enterprise's Meat Chopper in 1893 and the string's other endpoint being Brother Jonathan/Uncle Sam turning the crank of Edison's Tinfoil Phonograph and promoting the Enterprise's Mrs. Potts' Sad Iron in an 1878 ad in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

In the above Meat Choppers trade card Uncle Sam is standing next to Lady Liberty and the American Eagle. Exposition buildings are partially seen in this card and are also part of other Enterprise trade cards for this World's Fair. The copyright on the trade card is 1893 and was likely distributed before the fair closed on October 30, 1893. It was common, however, for companies after the fair to create trade cards to highlight their World's Fair 'awards' and their association with having been at the fair.

(See The Enterprise Company WCE Trade Cards collection for what I think is the most interesting series of trade cards made for the 1893 World's Fair).


Back of trade card for Enterprise Meat Choppers, Donaldson Brothers Litho, ©1893


Miss Columbia at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893


1893 Worlds Fair Columbian Exposition Souvenir Die Cut Needle Case with Miss Columbia


Uncle Sam as seen in Puck, The Inter Ocean Illustrated Supplement, and sheet music, each with connections to the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.


Uncle Sam awarding 1892 World's Fair to New York, Puck, 1889 by J. Keppler


World's Fair Puck "Grand Finale of the Stupendous Spectacular Success, Uncle Sam's Show." by Frederick Burr Opper

Puck, 1893 Oct. 30, p. 314. - Copyright by Keppler & Schwarzmann.

"Caricature of Uncle Sam dancing with eight men, stereotypically representing other Nations, at end of the Chicago World's Fair." (Courtesy Library of Congress).


"AFTER THE FLOOD" by Arthur Young

'NOAH UNCLE SAM "This Much Is Sartin, Them Animals Got A Terrible Shakin' Up"'

The Inter Ocean Illustrated Supplement, 1893


"Chicago World's Exposition Grand March," Composed by Victor Vogel. Publisher F.S. Chandler & Co., Chicago. 1890. (The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection, Johns Hopkins)


For a sampling of other trade cards and ephemera of Uncle Sam and Brother Jonathan promoting United States products from 1876 - 1900 (not including the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893) see "Uncle Sam and Brother Jonathan: Salesmen, 1876 - 1900."


Uncle Sam making American products and taking sales orders from the world (including the phonograph), Judge, 1899.


For examples of Uncle Sam promoting the Phonograph, see "Uncle Sam and the Phonograph."


Edison Advertising Form 392, circa 1901 (PM-1347)