Guide to Medals from US Expositions

1881 Atlanta International Cotton Exposition



Above. 1881 Cotton States medal. Silver. Obverse has EXPOSITON BUILDING across the top then a an X shape building in middle and a bee hive at bottom. Reverse has INTENATIONAL COTTON EXPOSITION across the top, then seated lady liberty with shield with 1881 below. ATLANTA, GA at bottom. The Cotton Exposition of 1881 resulted from the mutual ideas of Edward Atkinson, Hannibal I. Kimball and Henry Grady. Atkinson, President of the Boston Manufacturers Mutual Fire Insurance Company, delivered an address in the Senate Chamber of Atlanta advocating the city as the site for a Cotton Exposition. Kimball, a friend of Atkinson and president of the Atlanta Cotton Factory (on the site of the current CNN Center) along with Henry Grady, advocate of the "New South" and editor of the Atlanta Constitution, saw the Expo as a chance to advance the South as a major force in textile production. H. I. Kimball, Director General of 1881 Cotton States Exposition.

A model factory was proposed and adopted and the Exposition Cotton Mills were built at Oglethorpe Park in Atlanta. The Expo lasted from October 5 until December 31 of 1881.

See medals from the later Atlanta expo of 1895 and The 1887 Piedmont Exposition.

1881 Atlanta Cotton Exposition Souvenir Purse
Souvenir Coin Purse from 1881 Atlanta Cotton Exposition in Atlanta GA. Hand painted on perl type facing

The 1881 International Cotton Exposition

Atlanta GA held its first exposition, named the International Cotton Exposition, in Oglethorpe Park in 1881. The city then had fewer than 40,000 residents, and the primary sense in which the first exposition was "international" was the display of cotton plants from around the world. Nevertheless, Atlantans were eager to host the 1881 exposition to promote investment and to help the city toward its goal of becoming an industrial center. Although attendance was lower than expected (fewer than 200,000 in paid attendance during its two-and-a-half-month run), city leaders demonstrated that they could work together to host a major event that provided favorable publicity for the city. From the New Georgia Encyclopedia


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