Carved paper folding fan, Portland, ca. 1770

Contributed by Maine Historical Society


Chinese in origin, this painted fan features Western classical themes such as chariots, mythical beasts, and people dressed in Greco-Roman clothing. The design may evoke Neo-classical design aesthetics popular in the late 18th century. The fan’s leaves are paper, with the sticks and guard made from bone. Bone fans were less prevalent than ivory, but presented a similar appearance. The fan’s maker carved the guard—the outward facing piece when the fan is folded—with people, flowers and animal designs.

Larger folding fans were popular in the 18th century. Despite the larger format, 18th century fans did not open as wide as later 19th century versions, which opened to a full semi-circle. This fan is associated with the Wadsworth and Longfellow families of Portland.

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About This Item

  • Title: Carved paper folding fan, Portland, ca. 1770
  • Creation Date: circa 1770
  • Subject Date: circa 1770
  • Locations:
    • China
    • Portland, Cumberland County, ME
  • Media: Paper, bone
  • Local Code: A85-833
  • Collection: Costume collection
  • Object Type: Physical Object

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For more information about this item, contact:

Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230

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