Popular Hold-to-Light Postcards

  • About this Collection

    A popular souvenir of the World’s Fair was the hold-to-light postcard. These postcards were unique because the image on them changed when held up to a bright light.

    Hold-to-light postcards generally contained cut-outs on the top layer of the postcard overlaying another colored layer.

    St. Louis’ Samuel Cupples Envelope Company produced a series of these postcards depicting many of the Fair’s buildings and attractions. When these colored photographs are held to the light, the Exposition building lit up.

    The words ‘Official Souvenir Worlds Fair—St. Louis 1904’ appeared on the postcard.

    Hold-to-light postcards remain a popular item with today’s postcard collectors

  • Varied Industries building

    Postcards that when held to the light reveal what could not be otherwise seen.

  • U.S. Government building

  • Palace of Machinery

    German architectural influences can be seen in the towers, entrances and roof of the Palace of Machinery. The Machinery building was designed to contain the power plant for the Exposition and two railway tracks.

  • Palace of Liberal Arts

  • Palace of Agriculture

  • Missouri State building

    The Missouri building, designed by architect Isaac Taylor, was the 'largest and handsomest of the many on the Plateau of States.' The building contained two large halls, an auditorium, men's and women's parlors, press room and executive offices. Electric fountains flowed under its rotunda.

  • Electricity building

    The Palace of Electricity was one of main attractions at the Fair. It covered over eight acres and cost $400,000. Many St. Louisans took part in their first telephone conversation at the Fair. Some even met Thomas Edison when he visited the Fair.

  • Art Palace

    The Palace of Fine Arts, the only permanent building on the Exposition grounds, is located on Art Hill, directly south of the Terrace of States and 60 feet above the general level. Architect, Cass Gilbert, New York. Dimensions, center, 348 x 166 feet, two wings each 204 x 422 feet, total area 5.2 acres. Cost, $1,014,000. Fair officials had to agree that this building would be permanent to get foreign countries to send valuable works of art for display.

  • Cascade gardens and Grand Basin

    Water tumbled over the Cascades into the Grand Basin, the expanse of water between the palace of Electricity and Education, part of a lagoon system.

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