Today, the World’s Columbian Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers when the Exposition closed on October 30, 1893 and its successful finances.
First, from the Weekly Expositor newspaper of Brockway Centre, Michigan on November 3, 1893:
Close of the Great Exposition.
The great Columbian exposition closed Tuesday, after a six months’ history that reflects superlative honor on the intelligent enterprise and resources of Chicago, high praise on the American name and distinguished glory on the civilization of this age.
The exposition was designed from the very inception of the idea of an exposition to be not merely a great show nor even the greatest show on earth, but the setting forth in microcosm of the actual life of man as it exists on earth today.
From the four corners of the world have poured into the gates of Jackson park million after million of the visitors from the nations, until the grand aggregate reached nearly 22,000,000 souls.
The most of these people have reported to their friends at home, through the medium of their public press, their impressions of the great show, and from no pen has yet come testimony other than that the Columbian nation has fulfilled its own expectation of exposing faithfully to all the world what there is in the world.
To say this heartily is to say all that can be said of any great and successful thing.
Nothing in the world could be more pathetic than the manner of the closing of the exposition.
Arrangements had been made to have the show go out in a blaze of glory.
It closed quietly amid the symbols of sorrow and humiliation.
The one man whose presence has been through all the half year of the fair a revelation to the nations what simple American citizenship can be made to mean lay low under the stroke of an assassin.
It was beautifully appropriate and fit that under circumstances like these the fair should simply cease to be.
Just days after the exposition closed, the management provided details of the financials for the six-month event.
Second, from the Evening Bulletin of Maysville, Kentucky on November 2, 1893:
The Fair A Great Success.
What Would It Have Been Had Not Times Been Hard?
Chicago, Nov. 2. In closing the world’s Columbian exposition, the officials find themselves in a condition which, compared to that confronting them May 1, is remarkable, and is the best evidence of the success of the fair.
With a surplus in the hands of Treasurer Zebeger of which any corporation might feel proud, with all its debts paid and the world applauding what has been done, the directors may look back six months with great complacency.
Speaking of the present financial condition of the exposition company Vice President F. W. Peck said:
“We will close our books for the six months of the actual expense of the fair with a cash balance of about $2,500,000, I think that I may truthfully say that our good assets, not counting, of course, cash we have on hand, are nearly double our unsettled accounts.
“When we contrast this condition with that which faced us on the morning of May 1, we are compelled to congratulate ourselves and our stockholders.
“Truly the exposition has been a success in every sense. When the fair opened we owned not far from $8,000,000. This was a floating debt of nearly $3,500,000, and we owed on the face of the bonds issued one year ago $4,444,500.
“Pausing now for a moment of retrospection, it is pleasant to think what our success would have been had we not been compelled to contend against hard times, amounting almost to a financial panic throughout the country.
“Since May we have wiped out that indebtedness, have paid our running expenses, and have a balance on hand, which guarantees some return to the stockholders.
“The history of the fair has been a complete vindication of the business methods of the directors two years ago.
“The concessions will have paid into the treasury of the world’s fair cash to the amount of $3,500,000. In Paris in 1889 the concessions were operated on the cash basis and they paid to the exposition about $700,000.
“And so, with an attendance slightly smaller than that at Paris, we have collected five times the amount of money.
“I calculate that the receipts of the exposition company from the gates and the few concessions that will remain will aid in meeting expenses hereafter.
“In making an estimate of the receipts for the future I have made no allowance for the salvage.
“Times are constantly improving and if we are given an opportunity I am sure we will be able to secure something near the value for whatever buildings we may sell.
“It would be unfair to the stockholders of the exposition to destroy these buildings immediately.
“In conclusion I wish you would congratulate for me the stockholders, the people of Chicago and the nation upon the success of this, the world’s greatest exposition.”
The World’s Columbian Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an image of the exposition, circa 1893.