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Object Name Fan
Date 1876-1910
Description Folding fan, Mai Ogi type. Leaf is copper color metallic paper (possibly mulberry paper), hand-painted on both sides with Asian designs. Front is painted with two large flower blossoms (flowers appear to be hydrangeas), green and brown leaves, and a gray, white, and black butterfly. The flowers are white and lavender with a green tint and silver highlights; there is an insect on one of the flowers. The reverse side has a design of a branch with long slender foliage and three small bats, flying with wings spread; they are painted in black with white highlights. Sticks are wood, with laced tan cord on the guardsticks; the cord is knotted at the upper edges. Metal loop attached at rivet, with an attached cream color grosgrain ribbon bow. Made in Japan.
(Keywords: Fashion, Accessory, Asian, Floral)
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. Custom-made fans commemorating events, or for use as souvenirs or for advertising, were special ordered from Japanese fan manufacturers during this period.
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 Bats
Lexicon Sub-category Personal Gear
Associated People Willcox, Mary Otis (Gay)
Catalog Number 58.015.0006
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.