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Object Name Fan
Date 1876
Description Folding fan. Off-white paper leaf is a print that was made into a fan. Polychrome Asian scene of a man kneeling on the floor and painting; behind him is a woman kneeling on the floor, using a stirrer in a bowl. To the right of the woman are shelves with bowls. Three other people stand in the background. Colors include blue, green, pink, yellow, and magenta. The upper left has a box with Asian characters. The reverse side of the leaf is mottled brown/copper paper. Sticks are bamboo. Handwritten inscription in pencil on three of the sticks: "M. O. Gay / Centennial / 1876". Made in Japan.
(Keywords: Fashion, Accessory, Asian, Commemorative)
Acquisition Gift of Elizabeth Willcox Kidwell
Ownership and History The leaf of this fan is made from a Japanese print decorated with scenes and descriptions regarding the life of a famous Japanese printmaker named Ukiyo Matahei, who is also known as Iwasa Katsumochi Matabei (1578-1650).

Mary Otis Gay (1861-1933), whose name is inscribed on the sticks of this fan, was about 15 years old at the time of the 1876 Centennial Exposition. She was the daughter of noted abolitionist Sydney Howard Gay. The Gay family lived in West New Brighton, Staten Island.

Mary married William Goodenow Willcox on May 28, 1889, and they had five children. Mary was involved with many local community organizations. Her activities included serving as chairman of the Richmond County Chapter of the American Red Cross; trustee of the Staten Island Hospital, the Staten Island Academy, and the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences; and chairman of the Staten Island Woman's Suffrage Party.

This fan was part of a collection of clothing and accessories donated to the Staten Island Historical Society in 1958 by Mary's daughter, Elizabeth (Willcox) Kidwell.
Earliest Date 1876
Latest Date 1876
Material Paper/Bamboo
Subjects Artists
Lexicon Sub-category Personal Gear
Associated People Willcox, Mary Otis (Gay)
Catalog Number 58.015.0008
Support Acknowledgment Online Collections Database record made possible by the Fan Association of North America (FANA), 2013. (
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.