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Celluloid fans continued
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.
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".
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are already outdated (at least in Europe).
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.
©mm except quotations and other sources mentioned