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story.lead_photo.caption Where this ruby stained or ruby flashed souvenir cup was obtained is up for debate. (TNS/Handout)

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: This is a cup from the 1909 Seattle World's Fair. Is it of any value?

— L.A.

DEAR L.A.: This is a type of souvenir glassware that is known to collectors as either ruby flashed or ruby stained glass. It was extremely popular from about 1880 to the 1920s. During that time period, it was produced in vast quantities by a wide variety of makers.

When we read this letter, we stated that we had never heard of a World's Fair being held in Seattle in 1909. We were familiar with the Seattle World's Fair of 1962, known as the Century 21 Exposition, but we had never heard of a World's Fair held anywhere in the Pacific Northwest in 1909.

Research soon obliterated our ignorance. But we didn't feel so bad after we learned that PBS had made a documentary titled "Seattle's Forgotten World's Fair," which focused on the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (often called "AYP" or "AYPE") held in Seattle from June 1 to Oct. 16, 1909.

Its purpose was to publicize the development of the Pacific Northwest. The fair was opened by President William Howard Taft pressing a telegraph key studded with gold nuggets taken from the first gold mine in the Klondike. The spark for the presidential telegraph was sent at 3 p.m. Washington time and arrived in Seattle at noon.

When it arrived, a gong was struck five times, an American flag was unfurled, there was a 21-gun salute and the pageantry began. The fairgrounds now make up a large part of the University of Washington.

Collecting World's Fair items is a widespread hobby, but souvenirs other than postcards from the AYP are fairly uncommon. All sorts of things can be found including handkerchiefs, spoons, pennants, paperweights, plates, small trays, maps, tumblers and yes, punch cups.

We found one punch cup in custard glass engraved "AYP Seattle 1909," which is unquestionably a souvenir from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. Unfortunately, the cup in today's question appears to be inscribed only "1909 Chloe Jac—" (we could not see the rest) with no mention whatsoever of the AYP or Seattle.

This leads us to believe that L.A.'s family has some sort of family history that links the cup to that particular event, but sadly, family histories are notoriously unreliable. Most collectors would see no reason to associate the cup with this particular fair because it should have been engraved with "AYP" if it actually came from the event.

It is quite possible that L.A.'s ancestor bought it at a train station on her way to the fair or perhaps at some sort of off-site emporium that sold generic personal souvenirs. Since the piece cannot be conclusively linked to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, its monetary value is only in the $20 to $25 range. But a definite World's Fair connection would double the price.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written books on antiques. Do you have an item you'd like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email them at [email protected] If you'd like your question to be considered for their column, please include a focused, high-resolution photo of the subject with your inquiry.

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