Fans at the Athenaeum
Object ID:
Folding fan with single fabric pleated leaf. Sheer cream color silk leaf is hand painted with pastel flowers highlighted with delicate gold outlines and sequins. Outer edge of the leaf is trimmed with lace. Bone sticks and guards are incised. Ornate metal loop at rivet. The sheer silk fabric of this fan is greatly disintegrated; repair is nearly impossible without affecting the fabric's delicate appearance.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, manufacturers commonly weighted their silk fabric by adding metallic salts, usually of iron, lead, or tin, to improve the sheen and drapability of silk and to make it heavier. Because wholesale silk was sold by weight rather than yardage, the weighting of silk was an easy way to increase profits. But the excessive use of metallic salts caused silk fabric to deteriorate rapidly, especially along fold lines, explaining why many antique items made of silk are in such fragile condition.

Dimension Details:
Guard length: 8"
Leaf height: 5.75"
Open width: 15.125"
Arc (degrees when open): 160
12 sticks / 2 guards

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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