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Everything is interesting

I recently visited the website of the Antique Fan Collectors Association. This happened after a conversation with a very helpful individual who, when asked for blog post topic suggestions, replied, “fans.” He admitted that he happened to be staring up at a ceiling fan, but still insisted that fans are probably really interesting.

After reading the Wikipedia article about mechanical fans, I was at least convinced that there’s plenty to say about them. There are many different types of fans, from the familiar axial-flow fan (ceiling fans, table fans, and most automobile and computer cooling fans) to the “squirrel cage” fan used in leaf blowers and bouncy castles. The coolest way to move air is definitely with an electrostatic fluid accelerator, which has no moving parts and uses an electric field to propel ionized air molecules.

But I still wasn’t that interested.

Almost anything is really interesting to someone, so I looked for people who like fans—maybe they could tell me why I should care. I found the Antique Fan Collectors Association, which has “over 500 members with a wide variety of backgrounds.” The AFCA has an active forum (where members discuss antique fan restoration techniques, the 100th anniversary of the bowl heater, and other things) and, of course, an annual convention called the Fan Fair.

Old stuff is appealing, and old mechanical or electronic stuff is even better. Personally, I’m fond of old scientific equipment, especially from about the 1960s through the 1980s. It makes me feel like I’m part of a science adventure, maybe watching telemetry readouts in mission control during the Apollo program. But why fans? The AFCA says

Antique fans … are excellent examples of the industrial, technological and stylistic advancement of modern culture.

I get that, but their function is just so uninspiring. A beautifully restored antique fan can… blow air around. If you like interesting old mechanisms and industrial design, why not clocks? Or padlocks? Old farm equipment? Antique stoves?

And then I found Tim Mark’s White Glove Fans, and the answer was clear. They are really beautiful.

(Photo credits to Tim Mark.)

I’m not going to start collecting antique fans anytime soon, but I think I felt a twinge of the fan fever. And it’s good to be reminded that almost everything is interesting.


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