by Bob Jaeger
Arctic Fan. Kinda sounds like an industrial strength air-conditioner, one that would keep your house extra cool in the summer. But these words describe a nineteenth-century hand-held fan with an Arctic view painted on it. This fan is held at the AGS Library, UW Milwaukee as part of the American Geographical Society of New York Archives.
While it is unclear who painted the image, the fan was given to a Miss Allington by the Arctic explorer John Ross (1777-1856), who made three voyages to the Arctic. It was later presented to the AGS by one of its vice presidents, Francis A. Stout in 1871.
The fan is ornately designed, with a watercolor painting of an Arctic scene, an elaborate wooden handle, and a decorative trim and border. In an era without air conditioning, a snowy landscape like this might have helped keep the user a little bit cooler when looking upon this wintery scene.
We’d love to learn more about this fan and invite comments below.