Attractions and Exhibits
Sculpture and Paintings
Photos and Postcards
Medals of Award
Fair Visitors
The Year 1915
PPIE Goodies
Related Sites
Comments and Questions Welcome!

The awarding of medals at worlds fairs was an important tradition that continued at the PPIE. People put great effort into their products and exhibits with the hopes of winning an award. Companies would sometimes print the news of the award they won on their product labels for years after a worlds fair. It was quite a badge of honor, and was used somewhat as a seal of approval for consumers -- that the product that they were considering purchasing was a quality product. Additionally, there were awards given for art shown at the fair and for the exhibits of the various US states and nations.

According to "The Story of the Exposition" (Frank Morton Todd, 1921):

"The award system of a great exposition becomes a court who's verdicts affect the public choice of commodities, and the prosperity of industries involving millions of capital; and through those verdicts the trade of nations may be seriously modified."

"To institute simultaneous, and competent, surveys of the products of civilization collected in an exposition, and to provide judicial machinery that shall not only decide among those products, but shall quiet appeals and reconcile protests arising out of such decisions, and do it without suspicion of influence or risk of important error, is one of the gravest responsibilities of exposition management.

For, an exposition is not merely a collection of exhibits; it is a collection of competing exhibits. And if forms a great stimulus to producers in their endeavors to excel, if they know that at more or less regular intervals they are going to be able to get world recognition of their excellence from the one tribunal competent to accord it. So the award system, far from being a mere accident, and dispensable, is of the essential substance of all expositions that do their proper work in the world.

A properly administered award system calls into being a congress of authorities and world experts, men who's intellectual attainments are the latest developments in the arts and sciences, and these men are asked to sit in judgment on the fruits of the world's industry."

The juries for the PPIE consisted of almost 500 men and women from all over the world. People who were chosen as experts in all areas of science, art, and commerce. The International Award System was separate and independent from all other branches of the Exposition government. They wanted to make sure that there were no signs of impropriety, and went out of their way to keep the judging system separate.

Using an elaborate set of rules and a point system, there were six classes of awards:
Grand Prize (Best of Class)
Medal of Honor (95-100 points)
Gold Medal (85-94 points)
Silver Medal (75-84 points)
Bronze Medal (60-74 points)
Honorable Mention (without medal)

The medals were designed by John Flanagan, and then struck at the Philadelphia Mint. The recipients could have them plated with the metal corresponding to their award value. Accompanying certificates (also called diplomas) were given out as well – designed by C.A. Huston and engraved by M.W. Baldwin. They were printed at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in Washington, on special Japanese paper that made forgery difficult.

During the PPIE, an amazing 25,527 awards were given out, including 20,344 medals and 25,527 certificates. And unlike some previous worlds fairs, there were no lawsuits afterwards. (The 1904 St. Louis worlds fair had five lawsuits filed, contesting the results.)

The award process was an enormous project, but an integral and important element of the fair.