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Ball gift

fig. 8
"Dragon fly lady"



fig. 10
Cockade fan



Celluloid fans continued

The imitation of expensive substances with cheaper ones is nothing new. Around 1820/1830, when the small horn fans were in fashion, rests of horns or hooves were used to produce tortoise-shell imitations, in particular the rare blonde tortoise-shell (the belly of the Carey-Turtle). These protein imitates are only distinguishable chemically.

Small horn fan, sawn, painted, approx. 1815
[click on the photo for bigger image and more info]

The small horn fans of 1820/30 can be considered as models for celluloid brisé fans. Horn fans were often pierced (hand sawn or stenciled). Celluloid-fan sticks were often punched. They were produced en masse and customized with paintings or inscriptions. As such, they were also used as publicity fans, most often for restaurants or hotels. Around 1920, very small celluloid fans were used as "ball gift" together with a little booklet as "carnet de bal".

Celluloid-fans are totally neglected in fan literature. Cynthia Fendel's "Celluloid fans" 2000 is the first and so far only reference literature. One reason may be that celluloid fans were mass products that did not represent any value. However, similar to publicity fans, the collector's market is steadily growing and the values indicated in C. Fendel booklet are already outdated (at least in Europe).

Major producers of celluloid (fans) were, apart from the USA, Austria (Austro-Hungary) und Germany, followed by Italy.

Celluloid-fan-collectors should beware of one danger, mentioned on all celluloid websites and also in C. Fendel's book: the self-destruction of celluloid. Philosophically, it could be argued that, once the object is tired of its "shelf-life" it starts the process of self-destruction. This may happen were damages are apparent or suddenly, without warning. The cause is unknown, some explanation were tried but are not entirely convincing (i.e. contact with hair and cosmetics where celluloid combs are concerned, or contact with metal for pocket knives). The destruction process is infectious! Damaged objects must be isolated or thrown away. There is no known remedy.


HINT: Celluloid-fans that are not exhibited, should be wrapped up in acid-free paper and stored separately, for example in empty cardboard rolls of kitchen paper. Like that they can be stored one above the other without direct contact. It allows also for sufficient "air" to avoid nitrate cumulating as described by C. Fendel.

fig. 13
Celluloid post card



Pierced celluloid fan


Feather celluloid fan



fig. 12
Pocket feather fan

©mm except quotations and other sources mentioned