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The story of the fan: the Collection of the West Bohemian Museum in Pilsen

KOTOROVÁ, Ludmila. The story of the fan: the Collection of the West Bohemian Museum in Pilsen. Plzeň: The West Bohemian Museum in Pilsen, c.o., 2022. 272 stran. ISBN 978-80-7247-200-0.

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This publication, The Story of the Fan: The Collection of the West Bohemia Museum in Pilsen introduces this important collection of fans at the West Bohemia Museum in Pilsen. The collection is composed of three separate parts. The fans related to the first two are today kept in the Art and Industry Section of the Museum, while the third relates to the collection in the Museum Dr. Bohuslav Horák in Rokycany, which became a part of the West Bohemia Museum in 2015. This publication is itself composed of two parts: the first part deals with the history of fans in general. It recalls the production and types of fans from ancient times right up to the 20th century, and includes reference to many fans in museums throughout Europe, the United States and Great Britain. The modern period is covered in two distinct eras – the 16th to 18th centuries, then the 19th and 20th centuries. The description of the making and use of fans in the earlier of these eras focuses on those countries which have a tradition of production and is based on contemporary sources as well as academic studies and publications of researchers in the 19th century.  The second era, from the beginning of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century, which is most numerous in the Collection in terms of objects in its care, is charted according to the evolution of fan design in relation to changes in women’s fashion.

 In connection with the manufacture  and presentation of fans, the great international and national exhibitions held in Europe in the 19th century are covered, especially since they influenced the distribution of fans in Bohemia and Moravia. Based on contemporary prints or on company labels on the fans in the Collection, many of the makers and sellers of fans from Bohemia, Moravia, Germany and Austria are documented.

The second part of the publication is the Catalogue of the Collection, describing its 252 European fans,  arranged chronologically. The basic types are presented here, be they fixed or folding fans, especially from the 19th century, and the fans are further divided according to their material – be it textile, paper, lace or feathers. Brisé fans form a separate group.

The book was created with the generous support of an internal grant from the West Bohemia Museum in Pilsen, IGP 03/2019.

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