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Object Name Fan
Date 1800-1900
Description Rigid fan (handscreen). Made of pierced water buffalo skin, with a painted bird resembling a peacock at the center in gold and white, and gold scrolls around the border. Decoration is the same on both sides. Buffalo horn handle and frame. Made in Java.
(Keywords: Fashion, Accessory, Fixed Fan, Southeast Asian, New York)
Acquisition Gift of Katherine Seaman and Juliet Trench
Ownership and History This fan has a pierced design which creates a lacy effect. If held near the fireside or by candlelight, the design would cast interesting shadows.

Based on its style and materials, it is believed that the fan was made in Java, one of the islands that today make up the Republic of Indonesia. In the 1800s, when this fan was made, Java was under Dutch rule as part of the Dutch East Indies colony.

This fan is part of a group of fans that belonged to Miss Emily J. Benham of Greenridge, Staten Island. It was donated to the Staten Island Historical Society in 1936 by two of her nieces. In the 1880 census, Miss Benham, age 47, is noted as living with her extended family, including her three brothers, four sisters, one brother-in-law, three nieces and nephews, and her mother. Her father, brother, and nephew all served in the U.S. Navy, so perhaps one of them brought this fan back as a souvenir of their journeys.
Earliest Date 1800
Latest Date 1900
Material Buffalo hide/Horn
Subjects Fans
Lexicon Sub-category Personal Gear
Associated People Seaman, Katherine S.
Trench, Juliet Benham (Seaman)
Benham, Emily J.
Catalog Number C02.0391
Support Acknowledgment Online Collections Database record made possible by the Fan Association of North America (FANA), 2011. (
Legal Status Images and text in this database are copyrighted by the Staten Island Historical Society unless otherwise noted. Items represented here are from the collections of the Staten Island Historical Society. Materials reproduced for personal non-commercial use must credit the Staten Island Historical Society. Commercial licensing is available.