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French Advertising Fans at the Hand Fan Museum
February 2009 — May 2009

Hand Fans were, with posters and illustrated newspapers, the means of advertising services and mass produced goods to the public starting around the turn of the 20th century.

The improvements in manufacturing and in the general printing process (better colored inks, etc.) contributed to great changes in the direction of the French fan world. Fans could be made en mass easily and cheaply now out of simple wood sticks with paper leaves decorated with brilliantly colored lithographed images.

This kind of fan was especially effective when given away free to the clients of hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, wines, liquors, fragrances and department stores. These establishments were in the major urban centers (see examples for New York and London cafes and hotels) of the western world--not only in Paris, even though Paris was where most of them were created.

Unfortunately, this cheapening of fans and the horrendous effects of WW1 surely brought about the demise of hand fans as a necessary accoutrement to the modern woman.

The look of the fan was influenced by art nouveau and art deco styles of the period.

‘Art Deco’, an expression of elegant and cool sophistication in the 1920-1930’s, takes its name from an exhibit of ‘modern living’ at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes.

‘Art Nouveau’ is thought to have taken its name from a Paris art gallery opened in 1895 by the German, Siegfried Bing. There the fully realized decorative displays were so impressive that the style took the gallery name.
Pamela Sher
©2007-2008 The Hand Fan Museum. The Hand Fan Museum is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization.