Presentation Vase

This elegant silver vase was presented to Willard A. Smith, Chief of the Department of Transportation exhibits at the World’s Colombian Exposition in 1893. The Exposition was held in Chicago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of America. The Exposition was a great success as a world’s fair, and demonstrated to the international community that Chicago had recovered from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Presenting silver objects has always been a means of expressing gratitude and acknowledging deeds and accomplishments in American culture. It took Tiffany & Co. six months to construct this costly Art Nouveau style vase. Its decoration takes the form of the Transportation Building. The distinct semi-circular arches are the work of architect James Sullivan, who designed the building that housed the Department of Transportation exhibits. Medallions circling the vase celebrate the progress in the modes of land and water transportation, while representations of the Department of Transportation exhibitions adorn the vase as well.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Smith, Willard A.
Tiffany & Co.
Physical Description
silver (overall material)
wood (base material)
cast (overall production technique)
hammered (makers mark production technique)
overall: 61 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm; 24 in x 11 13/16 in x 11 13/16 in
overall: 1 in x 6 1/4 in x 1 3/4 in; 2.54 cm x 15.875 cm x 4.445 cm
Place Made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Willard A. Smith
Additional Media

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