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The Mini Models of the Fair

by Bill Young

I'm a bona fide, die-hard model nut. Sitting in a box in my basement is the beginnings of the '64 World's Fair constructed entirely out of paper! Well, not so impressive ... there's only a few pavilions completed. I jokingly refer to it as my "retirement project." Imagine my surprise and delight when I was introduced to this World's Fair legacy find:

"You like these sailor? No! You can't have them!" So began Mike's email of a few weeks back. Mike is a fellow 1964/1965 New York World's Fair collector and he knows of my affinity for models. He knew I'd be interested in seeing these. There in the attachment to his note were the IBM and Kodak pavilions from the Fair in miniature. "What the heck are those?" I wondered aloud. They appeared to be very tiny models of those famous pavilions, all in white and quite primitive. None-the-less it was unmistakable what they were. A quick email exchange followed and I soon learn that these wonderful little gems belong to Doug.

The original model scans Doug sent of the IBM (left) and Kodak Pavilions
IBM model Kodak model

Meet P. Douglas Siebenaler, the lucky owner of these World's Fair treasures. He's an architect who can trace his livelihood back to a childhood interest in architecture and the Fair. Around 1973 a friend of his father's, who knew of Doug's interest, was cleaning house and came across these old models he had saved. Doug believes this gentleman worked directly with a firm involved in the construction of the Fair. He was a draftsman with a background in graphic design. The boxes he presented to Doug contained 100 or more models and pieces of models from the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair!

Doug says "The models, I was told, were used to lay-out the Fair. They are ivory color, solid and unpainted. To this day I have been unable to find out what they were actually used for and if they have any value. These models look like plastic castings and are at a very small scale -- probably 1/32nd or smaller. Some have very rough unfinished edges at the base." Doug doubts they were used or displayed due to their rustic nature.

"Coke and a few others have two types of castings. Johnson Wax is marked #516 and 516-1. Most of the other models are also numerically marked. Could these markings be possible lot designations and/or building locations?"

Doug photographed the models that accompany this story. To give some idea of size, he included a ruler in some of the photos. The Bell System Pavilion appears to be only four inches in length! With that pavilion being one of the largest at the Fair, the small size of the remainder of the pavilion models becomes evident.

The big question is naturally "Where did they come from?" They are much too small and primitive for the Official Model displayed in the American Express Pavilion and they are also too small in scale for the Model of the City of New York, hosted at the City Pavilion. The only other model that Mike and I know of are the small "travelers" that were built to be portable to numerous venues that would advertise the Fair. We sent Doug a scan of one of the traveling models and asked if he could judge by size comparisons if his models look like they might have come from something like that. He felt they were too big for the travelers.

So we posed the question to the astute members of the Bulletin Board and soon found our answer when a detailed photograph of the traveler model on display at the Queens Museum at Flushing Meadows in New York was posted. It is indeed a match to Doug's mini-models. It is believed that the model at the Queens Museum is the only traveling model still in existance, so Doug's models are indeed rarer then hen's teeth!

Doug's models match those of the seven miniature traveling models
constructed by Lester Associates to advertise the Fair.

Domed Model
Long View

© Above Photos Copyright 2002, Rod Smith

I asked Doug the obvious question: "Are they for sale?" and I got the obvious answer! He did mention there were duplicates of some and he might be willing to part with those. But I've urged him to hang on to them. Although, with the prices of models trading on eBay today, he may be able to finance a small trip around the world or a 27 room mansion should he decide to auction them off! Let's hope he saves them for antiquity. What a wonderful legacy of the Fair.

Here are Doug's mini models of the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair...

Protestant & Orthodox Center
Protestant center
Travelers Insurance, RCA
Travelers, RCA
GM Rotunda (left), Uniroyal (center), Heliport
GM, Uniroyal, Heliport
NCR (upside-down left), Continental Insurance (center), World's Fair Pavilion
NCR, Continental Insurance, WF Pavilion
Ford (left), GM Main Pavilion & duplicate Ford Rotunda -- note the miniature tubes to be attached to the sides of Ford's Rotunda!
Ford, GM
Gas Companies Pavilion
Gas Companies
Rheingold (painted & unpainted) with Rheingold's Carousel
Johnson Wax Pavilion (left) and Golden Rondelle
Johnson Wax
Formica, Seven-up
Formica, 7-Up
Coca-Cola (2 castings)

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