The Fan Collection held by the Hampshire Museums Service numbers 345 fans to date. These have been collected over a period of 50 years, primarily through the Red House Museum at Christchurch, the Curtis Museum at Alton and the Willis Museum, Basingstoke.
There are twenty 18th century examples, 260 from the 19th century, and 85 from 1900 onwards. They include European and Oriental, one South American, and some African examples. Most are folding fans, but there are some fixed fans, and hand-held fire screens. The criteria for collecting is that they have been used in this country. They were acquired with a view not only to their aesthetic appeal and the range of materials employed, but also for their social and local history interest, and often as part of a donation of an outfit or group of costume.
There is just one clearly local example to date, an advertising fan for the Gosport theatre. While there is no other specific fan of sufficient rarity or importance to merit special mention, the collection does present a very attractive range of fans spanning nearly 300 years and gives a fair indication of the kind of fan used by the people of Hampshire and beyond over these centuries.
The development of this website was seen as a priority due to the fragile nature of fans. Fans not on display are stored centrally at Winchester, in optimum environmental conditions, in acid free tissue paper, and boxes, mainly folded, for reasons of safety as well as space; hence physical access is limited.
A number of exhibitions have featured fans from the collection including: the 'Bones', which showed a selection of ivory fans; 'Parasols and Pelerines', featuring costume and accessories of 1825-40, at the Allen Gallery, Alton; and the Wood Fair at Milestones featuring wood brise fans, wooden guards and paper leaves.
The Fan Circle International, founded in 1975, has visited the collection twice - with study days at Chilcomb House and the Red House respectively - and given valuable opinions on the holdings. We are also grateful to Rosie Baker, a key member of that society, for her expertise in editing the catalogue entries. The Fan Museum at Greenwich is adding our details to their published list of fan collections across the country. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on other collections, and a list of their publications.
There are fan motifs on a myriad of other costume items and decorative art objects, within the collections, which will in the fullness of time be cross-referenced. Individual items from the costume and textiles collection may be viewed by serious scholars, by appointment with the relevant Keeper (at least one month in advance).
Search the fans collection
The fans database contains detailed information on all the fans in the collection.
Each fan is illustrated with one or more photographs.