hand painted

A Fan with a View

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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 theĀ American Geographical Society of New York Archives.

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Nineteenth-century hand painted fan (Click on image for a larger view)

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.

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Closer view of the Arctic scene painted on this nineteenth-century fan (Click on image for a larger view)

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.