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Treasures from the Collection

Enlarge Off white fan embroidered with scrolling vines, cupid's arrows and a scene of Aphrodite.

Painted Silk Fan, 1905-1915

Manufactured in Paris by Duvelleroy. Silk, mother-of-pearl, paint, sequins. Gift of Lorraine Goodrich MacDermott.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1956.1196

Painted Silk Fan and Box, 1905-1915

A granddaughter of brewery founder Frederick Pabst, Lorraine MacDermott (1893-1977) used this exquisite fan while she lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She may have bought it from a Chicago shop selling Duvelleroy fans. The firm of Duvelleroy, known for its exceptional fan painting, had begun making fans in 1827, and by the late 19th century had an extensive international export business in North and South America.

Enlarge White fan box with Duvelleroy logo printed on lid interior.

Box Detail

Enlarge Closer view of Aphrodite scene on fan.

Fan Detail

Enlarge Back of fan embroidered in a similar way to the front of the fan.

Back of fan

Many Duvelleroy fans echoed those made in the 18th century, when love and lovers were popular themes for fans. Lorraine's fan depicts lovers looking at a statue of the Greek love goddess, Aphrodite. The love theme is reinforced with Cupid's quiver of arrows shown on either side, with one arrow placed strategically in the bull's eye.


Enlarge Brass leaf-shaped fan featuring a silhouetted figure surfing an ocean wave.

Decoupage Stick Fan, 1900-1910

Cardstock, brass, wood. Gift of Walter L. Haight.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1956.1009

Decoupage Stick Fan, 1900-1910

The confidant surfer depicted on this broad leaf-shaped fan indicates this fan was probably made near the Pacific Ocean.

After almost disappearing, surfing experienced a revival during the first years of the 20th century. Hawaiians in the Waikiki area were the first to take up the surfboard again. At the time, Waikiki was becoming an important tourist destination, and surfing came to California in 1907.

Though we do not know the history of this fan, it may have been a Hawaiian or Californian tourist souvenir.

Donor Walter Haight did not visit these locations, but his in-laws, James L. and Elizabeth V. Foley of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, traveled extensively around the United States. They may have visited Hawaii or California and brought back the fan as a souvenir for their daughter and son-in-law.


Enlarge Castula fan, off white and tan background, embroidered with birds sitting on a flowering branch.

Embroidered Silk Fan and Box, ca. 1900

Manufactured in China. Silk, ivory. Gift of Frederica McBain Zdanowicz.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1975.174.4,a

Embroidered Silk Fan and Box, ca. 1900

Frederica Zdanowicz (1902-1992) of Madison, Wisconsin received this fan as a gift from friends who had purchased it at an antique store in Spain. The fan appears to have been made in China for export to Spain.

Enlarge Back of fan with similar embroidery as the front of fan.

Back of fan

Enlarge Ornate brown fan box opened to reveal the interior of red silk. Embroidered on the lid is a scene of people in robes walking in a garden landscape.

Box interior

Enlarge Exterior of Castula fan box, ornately carved with a detailed garden scene.

Box exterior


Enlarge White fan with guilded sticks scrollwork. Background gives the impression of lace. Watercolor scenes throughout.

Lithographed Fan, 1850-1870

Manufactured in France. Paper, ivory. Gift of Frederica McBain Zdanowicz.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1975.174.2

Lithographed Fan, 1850-1870

University of Wisconsin professor Casimir D. Zdanowicz (1883-1953) probably purchased this fan at an antique store in Paris in 1907. It represents the most popular form of fan from the mid-19th century, with its elaborate, gilded ivory sticks and lithographed and hand-watercolored images of people from the 18th century. Like some of the best fans from this time period, it was decorated on both sides.

Enlarge Back of fan. Similar to front except no gold guilding and fewer watercolor scenes.

Back of Fan

Enlarge Close up of watercolor scene.

Fan Detail


Enlarge White fan decorated with central painted scene of swan lake.

Painted Celluloid Brisé Fan, ca. 1890

Celluloid, ribbon, paint. Gift of Mary J. and Charles Kendall Adams.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1945.773

Painted Celluloid Brisé Fan, ca. 1890

Mary J. (Matthews) Smith Barnes (1840-1902) purchased this fan in Europe, perhaps at the time of her July 9, 1890 wedding to third husband, Cornell University president Charles Kendall Adams, in London, England. Two years later Charles Kendall Adams became president of the University of Wisconsin.

Enlarge Close up of painted swan lake scene with mountains in the distance and a flowering rose branch in the foreground.

Fan Detail


Enlarge Off white fan with guilded wheat, feathers at the tips, and a small oval mirror embedded on the right.

Punched Paper and Feather Fan with Mirror, 1863

Paper, ivory, feathers, glass. Gift of Mrs. F.A. Kartak.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1945.658

Punched Paper and Feather Fan with Mirror, 1863

This fan was brought from Paris, France to Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1863. The reason for the embossed golden wheat image is not known, but historically the wheat motif symbolized the "golden wealth" provided by Mother Earth. The fan's mirror made it possible for its owner to see discretely who was behind her.


Enlarge Black feather fan with green painted details.

Painted Black Feather Fan, 1880-1900

Goose feathers, wood, paint. Gift of Jessie Knapp.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object # 1945.646

Painted Black Feather Fan, 1880-1900

This fan probably belonged to Jessie (Thomas) Knapp (b. 1855) of Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Enlarge Close up of painted details. The fan features a brown bird perched on a flowering branch.

Fan Detail

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