While too wide-ranging and established to be described as niche, fans are sufficiently specialist to be protected from swings in market taste.
Last year, a Cantonese cockade brisé fan took a whopping £23,000 (over a £1200 high estimate), but lower value fans – such as two Edwardian examples advertising the Carlton Hotel and Hotel Metropole which went for £80 – prove that a little money can go a long way in this field.
Below is a look at several examples coming to auction soon and where to find them.
Chinese Qing Dynasty fan
This Chinese gilt-decorated black lacquer fan from the Qing Dynasty features 22 leaves painted in gilt. Shaped panels contain figures in landscape against a ray skin ground between floral borders. It is offered at Chiswick Auctions’ Asian Art sale on February 19 and has an estimate of £600-800.
French ivory fan
Bellmans offers this ivory fan at its Winchester interiors sale on February 13-14 with an estimate of £150-250. Probably French from the second half of the 19th century, the gilt and painted fan features an idyllic scene of a young lady in a landscape with a dove and a cherub hanging from a flowering branch. To the reverse is a semi-nude woman and cherub bathing in a pool. It is signed indistinctly.
Japanese folding fan
This Japanese hand-painted fan goes under the hammer at McTear's in Glasgow on February 14. The early 20th century fan, offered with an estimate of £100-200, is decorated with a mountain landscape to one side and script to the other. It is offered with a silk embroidered case and a fabric panel embroidered with bats and flowers.
John Inman collection
Quite different and not necessarily antique but interesting from a celebrity angle is the group of fans included in a large and varied lot of items from the estate of actor and pantomime legend John Inman of the British sitcom Are You Being Served? The nine fans are offered with linen and Penberthy dress gloves all in various conditions. They are offered at Special Auction Services sale on February 19.
Early European folding fan
An early European folding fan, made c.1820-40, is included in Mullock's auction of February 23. Offered with an estimate of £160-180, it is made with pierced shaped and metal inlaid bone guards and matching sticks with mother-of-pearl edged rivet and shaped gilt metal loop that suspends a tassel. The paper double mount is printed and overpainted with a scene of figures and a putto and is signed EP. Further decoration includes gilt heightened floral motifs, a river scene and floral sprays verso. The remnants of a feather edging are still evident.
Chinese fan with cat and butterfly
Clars Auction Gallery in California offers this playfully decorated Chinese folding fan depicting a cat with butterflies and peonies in ink and colour on paper. With a provenance back to a prominent San Francisco collection, the fan is entitled Fugui Maodie and includes a poetic colophon. It is part of the sale taking place February 16-17 and has an estimate of $500-700.
19th century objets de vertu
A lot comprising three 19th century objets de vertu in Lyon & Turnbull’s sale Five Centuries: Furniture, Paintings & Works of Art from 1600 includes a painted silk fan. Depicting figures and landscapes it is made with painted bone sticks and silk and is offered with a lava cameo brook and small mixed metal Irish crescent brooch. All have a provenance to Hatton Castle in Aberdeenshire and are offered with an estimate of £200-300.