Object: United States Centennial Exhibition Medal, 1876.
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|Title||United States Centennial Exhibition Medal, 1876.|
Mitchell, Henry (designer), 1876, United States
|Medium summary||struck and engraved bronze medal|
|Technique||metalworking, striking, engraving|
x 9mm (Width/Depth)
|Credit line||Gift of the family of Sir James Hector, 1937|
This United States Centennial Exhibition Medal, 1876, is struck in bronze. It was presented to James Hector by the Exhibition Commissioners in recognition of his services as New Zealand's Commissioner. The obverse side shows allegorical figures of art and industry. The text on the reverse side reads 'INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION PHILADELPHIA MDCCCLXVI  AWARDED BY UNITED STATES CENTENNIAL COMMISSION'.
The Centennial Exhibition
The Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876 was to commemorate the centenary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was the first world exhibition held in America and was a huge undertaking. There were 35 participating nations, 200 pavilions, and over 10 million visitors between its opening on 10 May and the closing on 10 November. New Zealand was among the countries invited to take part.
James Hector was appointed a Special Commissioner to travel to Philadelphia and organise the display of New Zealand's 'products and manufactures'. The items selected for display were mostly examples of the 'raw products of the country', such as gold, grain, wool, coal, timber, and flax. There were some manufactured goods, such as rope, leather, dyes, preserved meat, and alcoholic beverages. Mäori culture was represented by taonga (treasures) from Whanganui iwi (tribes), and also by some items that Hector borrowed from the United States National Museum in Washington.
Hector was especially proud of his large display of gold nuggets, which he reported 'attracted so much attention, that a barrier was required to keep off the pressure of the crowd.' There was also a 'huge gilt pillar, 25 feet [about 8 metres] high, representing the yield of the New Zealand gold fields since 1862.'
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