Fans at the Athenaeum
Object ID:
Black ostrich feather brise fan. Wood sticks and guards are painted and varnished black. A two inch wide black satin ribbon adorns the metal loop. Longer feathers in the middle of the fan give it a graceful oval shape. Popular from the 1880s through the 1920s, ostrich feather fans were popular accessories for evening wear and formal occasions.

Increased demand for ostrich feathers during the nineteenth century — for hats, dresses, ceremonial garb, and fans — gave rise to ostrich farming, starting in South Africa. Wild ostriches adapted readily to domestication, and their feathers could be plucked without harming the bird.

To Learn More:
Read about the history of ostrich farming in Oudtshoorn, South Africa, The Ostrich Capital of the World.

Dimension Details:
Guard length: 8.5"
Feather height: 6.5" to 10.5"
Open width: 13"
Arc (degrees when open): 60
11 sticks / 2 guards
Total length (including frame and feathers): 16"

Credit Line:
Anonymous gift
This online exhibition is made possible through a generous grant from the Fan Association of North America (FANA).
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