Learn about Fans

Fans were first used in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. Many of the more intricate ones carried concealed knives or stilettos, as it was often dangerous to walk alone after nightfall or in a dark alley, especially in Renaissance Italy. Fans were of course functional, serving to keep off flies, shield one from the heat of a fire, or create a current of fresh air. Gradually, fans became an almost essential accessory for the fashionable, and no skill or expense was spared in their design and manufacture.

At the beginning of the 19th century, fans were considered an indispensable dress accessory for ladies attending balls and other functions. Three major types of fan were in use at that time.

Folding fans, the most common, consisted of leaves mounted on sticks which were joined at the foot. Paper was used in the cheaper fans, but parchment, made from the skin of young turkeys or silk were preferred in the more expensive varieties. The leaves were richly gilded and painted, often with Neo-classical motifs and scenery spreading across the leaves, so that they presented a panoramic effect when the fan was fully-extended. more...
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Good vintage carved bone and silk fan, with rose decoration in original box

Tim Goodchild, (20th century), Ko Ko + Ko Ko and Nanki Poo, costume designs for the Mikado, Sydney opera house 1985 (2), gouache and ink, each signed and dated lower right, 22.5 x 43.5 cm fan, 32 x 27.5 cm. Provenance: The collection of Ron O'Mullane O

Framed Victorian mother of pearland lace fan, width 57 cm approx

A framed ivory fan with a mounted ivory fan, English, 19th century

Tortoise shell fan having eighteen panels, eck pierced with floral detail & carved with butterflies. Bound with silk & with a tortoisesheel latch to the base. Condition: good, minor age related wear. Length 20.5 cm

A pair of painted early 20th century French fan having figures in traditional costume and the other painted with floral decoration 41x73 cm.

Two large Oriental hand painted fans with birds and floral decoration, 1.8m largest fan open

A French mother-of-pearl and Brussels lace fan, circa 1880s, the belle epoque folding fan with mother-of-pearl sticks and ivory supports for the delicate cream floral Belgian lace, with a cream silk tassel, width 56 cm

Antique horn fan and tortoiseshell guitar 32 cm long approx (fan)

An Oriental ivory BRISE fan and a bone letter opener. Mid 20th century. The folding fan with each stick crisply pierced with patterns and typically joined with a running ribbon; the small letter opener with a row of carved and pierced elephants and an elep

A finely painted and gilded mother of pearl fan, French, circa 1850, within a carved and gilded fan shaped frame, the frame 33 cm high, 58 cm wide

French 19th century ivory & silk fan in box, hand painted with a female holding a bird, overall length approx 30 cm. Box in cream silk and hand painted with pink, yellow and white flowers, green stalks and leaves. J. Duvelleroy, by appointment 167 Rege

An interesting hand painted lace fan in carved frame. 59 cm high, 93 cm wide

A fan, Zhu Baoci (1880-1950), Xiao Xun (1883 - 1944), tan Guohuan (19th to 20th), Chen Fangao (1867 - ?), Shou Nie (1885 - 1949), Peng Hanhuai (1876 - 1952) and Zhu Bangjin (19th to 20th), various subjects, 1929 to 1931, all signed, five dated 1929, two da

A Continental mother-of-pearl and gilt decoration, ladies fan, late 19th century, hand painted lithograph depicting courting couple, with retailers box: August Timm, Juwelier, Hamburg

A signed French painted bone brise fan, late 19th to early 20th century, the dainty fan, laced with ribbon and painted to one face with cherubs contemplating a garland of roses, signed indistinctly to one of the sticks. Width 34.5 cm.

Antique hand painted silk and sequin fan, depicting a courting scene

A Victorian black fabric fan with black and gilt sticks, circa 1880

Antique ivory & silk fan, with handpainted & signed floral decoration

Antique mother of pearl ladies fan, Duvelleroy (London & Paris), circa 1860, with original box, some early repairs

Antique French Ivory and lace fan, with handpainted romantic scene

A vintage Oriental ivory Brise fan, the fan with pierced sticks United by a woven white ribbon. Length 23 cm

A fan, tortoiseshell and black lace, circa 1900 Having tortoiseshell slats, interleaved with ruffled black lace, with the last slat bearing the inscription "Nellie" in raised rose gold Provenance: presented by Dame Nellie Melba to Emmy Smith-Palm

Antique French Fabrique D'Eventails lace fan with mother of pearl fittings, 35 cm high

Georgian Papier-M√Ęche fan. Georgian Papier-Mâché fan having mother of pearl detail on a a gilded timber turned handle. Condition fair, loose handle & some losses to the mother of pearl. Length 37 cm

A Victorian ladies fan faux ivory, pink silk satin; extra long chain; American; excellent condition fan: 25 cm span, chain: 60 cm