A quick look online for a collectible old fan will show electric fans made since the late 1800s. But some collectors want even older fans, the handheld folding fans that were being made by the 1700s. These fans were more than a fashion accessory — they were important indicators of the user’s status and good taste. There was even a “language of love” using the fan that let a lady flirt, ask men to come by to chat, or even hit an irritating person.
Folding fans were made with sticks of bone, ivory, bamboo, wood, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, lacquer, metal or more recently, plastic. They held a decorated cover of silk, paper, leather or canvas. Some had added jewels and artist-drawn oil or watercolor paintings. A talented fan painter was as important as an artist who created portraits or landscapes.
Collectors in the 1950s searched for period fans and often mounted them in half-circle frames. Expensive fans of the past are hard to find in good condition. A painted paper fan with carved gilt sticks decorated with mother- of-pearl was offered for sale at a Neal auction.
My mother has my grandparents’ desk. It is kneehole style, with a curvy front, two drawers on each side and a drawer in the middle. The label on the back reads “Cherry and Maple/Atlas Furniture Co., Jamestown, New York.” What is it worth?
Atlas Furniture Co. was formed in 1883 as the Swedish Furniture Co. by Swedish immigrants Lawrence Erickson and Gustave Holmberg in Jamestown. The name was changed to Atlas in 1871. Atlas advertised as “Manufacturers of Bedroom Furniture,” making “better” grades of bedroom furniture, including dressers, chiffoniers and toilet tables from walnut, mahogany and other woods. Atlas closed in 1941. Your desk would sell for $50 to $100.
I found 10 unused World War I postcards. The title of one of the postcards is “Les Americains au Camp d’Auvours.” I’ve spent hours online and can’t find anything similar. Are they worth anything?
A military camp has been located at Champagne, France, since the 1870s. Allied troops used the camp as a rear base during World War I. A series of postcards was made picturing American troops at the camp and most sell online for under $5. To find out more, go to a postcard show or antiques show and talk to a postcard dealer.
Caughley urn, soft paste, cobalt blue, leaves, square base, 1700s, 6 inches, pair, $75.
“Star Wars” bust, Boba Fett, head tilted, arm out shooting, multicolor, 15 inches, $140.
Birdbath, birds, round basin, column support, pierced base, 34 x 21 inches, $585.
Louis Vuitton suitcase, monogrammed, brass hardware, tan leather, France, 16 1/4 x 27 3/4 inches, $1,200.
Tip: A signature on a piece of jewelry adds 30% to the value. Look at the pin shank, pinback and catch for the signature.