Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Object Name Fan
Date 1876-1910
Description Folding fan, Mai Ogi type. Leaf is copper color paper (possibly mulberry paper), hand-painted on both sides with Asian designs. One side has four gold and white frogs walking upright (humanized) in an abstract landscape. Around the frogs are flowers and leaves in various colors; the largest flower is yellow and red. The other side has four frogs walking upright; the frog at far left is carrying something in his hand (possibly a teapot); there are mountains in the distance. Sticks are bamboo, which are lacquered black. There is laced tan cord on the guardsticks; the cord is knotted at the upper edges. The rivet has an attached metal loop with tied cord and tassel. Made in Japan.
(Keywords: Fashion, Accessory, Asian)
Acquisition Gift of Elizabeth Willcox Kidwell
Ownership and History This type of fan is called a Mai Ogi or dancing fan. The Mai Ogi, which first appeared in the 17th century, became extremely popular in this country after the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where the Japanese pavilion had walls lined with paper fans.

The images of frogs which decorate this fan might relate to a Japanese folk legend. Frogs are sometimes considered symbols of good fortune or successful travel.

This fan may have belonged to Mary Otis Gay (1861-1933), 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 1910
Material Paper/Bamboo/Cord
Subjects Fans
Lexicon Sub-category Personal Gear
Associated People Willcox, Mary Otis (Gay)
Catalog Number 58.015.0007
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.