I’ve been reading through eighteenth-century inventories and vendues a lot lately. I keep running into listings for a “Dutch fan” (the period term for a winnowing fan, used for literally separating the wheat from the chaff). Since I’m trying to collect an image or images for everything included in the inventories (because you never when they’ll come in handy), I was happy to find this May 26th, 1774 Virginia Gazette ad for a Philadelphia-based Dutch fan maker:

Adam Ekart, fanmaker, was listed in the 1774 Philadelphia Provincial Tax. Based on his assessment, he seems to be doing pretty well for himself. We don’t know about about other years because he’s not in the Philadelphia tax records before or after ’74.

The image was a great find, as was the following in Francis Hopkinson’s 1792 Miscellaneous Essays and Occasional Writings (Volume I):

HAVING accidentally broke a lady’s fan, l ordered my servant, the next morning, to look for and purchase the best and handsomest fan he could get, and carry it to the lady with my compliments. My servant returned, after an absence of two hours, and told me that the lady refused to receive the fan; saying, that he must certainly be mistaken; that it could not be intended for her; and that she had no use for such a thing. I was surprised, and asked my servant what he had done with it.- “Sir, I have brought it home with me.” – “Well, and where is it?” – “At the door in a cart.” – “In a cart! – A fan in a cart!” I ran to the window, and saw a huge Dutch fan for winnowing corn.

You know it’s a good research day when you find the artwork you’re looking for and a joke to go with it.