The Cold War era was an interesting time for the Greater Seattle Area. The technology and space race with our Soviet competitors was in full swing and with Seattle being Boeing's hometown, it was only right for the Emerald City to host the World's Fair in 1962.
During April 21-October 21, 1962, Seattle would respectively draw 10 million visitors to a 28-acre lot in the neighborhood adjacent to Queen Anne, now known as the Seattle Center. Though there were many more aesthetically pleasing areas throughout the city limits, such as Fort Lawton, the Queen Anne area was more reasonably accessible from the Downtown district.
A complete overhaul of the area would be in full force beginning in 1957 to construct the much-needed transportation to and from the Downtown area. The Space Needle, now a historic landmark, would be erected in the final months leading to opening day, 13 to be exact. Along with all of this, many more improvements were made around the city to accommodate the highly anticipated event that would leave all eyes on the Pacific Northwestern city.
With an emphasis on space exploration, modern science and future technological endeavors, sponsors from all industries were keen on making their contribution to the 1962 Worlds Fair. Ford Motor Company, Boeing and Bell Telephone along with the US Government all made contributions totaling well over $9 million USD. Additionally, many ally countries were invited to participate with a controlled communist influence, of course. The Peoples Republic of China, Vietnam and North Korea were all decidedly left off the invitation list and the Soviet Union declined any and all participation.
To call April 21, 1962 an "eventful" day in Seattle would be an insult and understatement. The extravaganza had visitors in awe: the official opening day of the Space Needle, 10 F-102 fighter jets flew overhead to help signify that the fair had officially begun, over 2000 balloons inflated at the gates, and 538 clanging bells. Over the next 6 months, the fair grounds would be graced with the presence of Elvis Presley filming, "It Happened at the World's Fair," Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Walt Disney and Prince Philip. Visitors would also be entertained with a long list of musicians, comedians, and various other entertainers traveling through the area.
Memorabilia would also take on its own flare including limited released coins and paper "currency". While the paper currency itself is visually attractive, it is the World's Fair coin collections that have remained some of the most popular collectors items.
Released in gold, silver and bronze editions, the rarest of all is gold with only 4 sets struck. Each of the four sets had already been accounted for prior to opening day: one promised to the Smithsonian Institute, and the other three allotted solely for presentation at the fair. The silver and bronze editions each saw availability in the thousands. The silver collections were produced with much larger availability when compared to gold, 15,000 and bronze almost three times that of silver, 40,000.
Of the eight designs released, each feature a unique depiction of various sites from around Seattle, images to be seen within the fairgrounds along with images of what was believed to be the future of everyday life. Of which still memorialized, are the Space Needle, Monorail, and the Past,
Present and Future of the merry go round and the world of commerce and industry. Each creative, intricate design in no manner lacks detail, making these coins an unrivaled set.
Currently, Bellevue Rare Coins has a number of full silver sets on hand at their Bellevue location. Each complete set of eight coins is housed in their own book made specifically for the coins to be held and dating back to 1962.
Seattle and the space and science industries showcased at the World's Fair in 1962 have both advanced immensely in the last 53 years. With a new year just around the corner, it will be exciting to see what the next 53 have in store for this beautiful region and the ever evolving science realm.
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Since 1979, Bellevue Rare Coins has been a trusted, family-owned business serving the Greater Seattle Area with locations in Bellevue, Lynnwood, and West Seattle. Specializing in gold, silver, diamond, and jewelry purchasing, in addition to dealing in rare coins. We now offer a vast selection of fine, vintage and custom designed jewelry. Visit anyone of our three friendly locations for the best deals selling or buying.