Texas Centennial Quick Facts:
- The Texas Centennial was held in Dallas, Texas from June 6-Nov. 29, 1936.
- Most Centennial souvenirs were marked with the official logo created for the exposition or the dates 1836-1936.
- Centennial souvenirs found today include glassware, commemorative plates and spoons, pottery items, paper programs and booklets, and even straw cowboy hats.
- Little information on Centennial collectibles has been formally published.
Discovering Texas Centennial Collectibles
As a Depression glass collector, I discovered an offshoot of that niche in "swanky swigs." These colorfully decorated tumblers are usually the size of a juice glass. As luck would have it, they were produced in a number of styles in 1936 with one being made of cobalt blue glass decorated with a white horse and rider decal that caught my eye. On the reverse is the Texas Centennial logo.
Although I wasn't interested much in swanky swigs as cute little glasses once filled with jelly or cheese products, I did like the idea of commemorating Texas history with a collection of glassware. From that point on, I began looking around for other items saved as souvenirs from this landmark event.
Texas Centennial Basics
This exposition, held in Dallas, Texas from June 6 through November 29, 1936 wasnÃ¢ÂÂt considered a huge success in comparison with other expositions and fairs held during that era. Even still, many Texans made their way to Dallas for the event and most all of them brought home some type of souvenir.
Little information has been produced for collectors pertaining to Texas Centennial souvenirs, but there are quite a few advanced collectors of Centennial memorabilia floating around the collecting universe. Some of them have some pretty impressive collections too, far more extensive than mine. Many WorldÃ¢ÂÂs Fair collectors pick up items from other expositions as well, so Centennial collectors compete with these folks for the rarest items.
Centennial Logo and Other Motifs
The expositionÃ¢ÂÂs official logo, a round Texas Centennial Exposition 1836-1936 seal, decorates many of the souvenir items collectors seek today. It's most easily recognized when accompanied by a colorful representation of "Texas Under Six Flags."
This particular seal and flag logo on many different items including plates, water jugs and bands bedecking straw cowboy hats. Generally the glass and ceramic pieces held up well over the years so those pieces beckon collectors most frequently in antique malls and shops, and they turn up in online auctions fairly often as well.
This logo was also affixed to many delphite, a type of opaque light blue glass characteristic of the depression era, cowboy hat paperweights in the form of a paper sticker. After years of cleaning and wear, most of these labels have worn off leaving a nice Depression glass collectible many people haven't yet associated with the Texas Centennial.
Other items were produced with an outline of the Alamo raised in the glass and many different commemorative plates can be found, including a beautiful blue and white glazed version produced by Wedgwood. Paper items were also brought back from the exposition, but many of them have started to deteriorate with age. This is especially true of those that weren't stored away from light, wood and other paper products that emit harmful acids.
Souvenirs at the Exposition
One of the most informative Texas Centennial items I've run across is an official souvenir guide that sold for 25 cents at the exhibition. Filled with drawings of the various exposition buildings and halls, such as The Electrical Hall, The Dallas Aquarium and The Hall of Communications, most of them display the art deco styling so popular during the 1930s. Some of these buildings are still standing in Dallas Fair Park today.
The Administration Building, the first to be constructed by the Exposition Corporation, is said to have "the air of modern simplicity and classic severity which is typical of the Twentieth Century." As a collector, the description featuring The Varied Industries Building captured my attention more than any other.
"In the A. Harris & Company exhibit you will find, in a tasteful setting, the presentation of one of the major department stores of Dallas. The space of this company is devoted to the display and sale of many interesting Centennial souvenirs and articles which are typical of Texas, Mexico and the Southwest."
Other interesting exhibits in the same building included a huge Coca-Cola display with a working bottling facility used to stock the vending stations at the exhibition. There was even a Czechoslovakian exhibit where "many articles of merchandise brought from that colorful land" including "gay peasant costumes, porcelain, glassware, hand painted woodenware, leather goods and other items are offered for sale."