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By Cynthia Fendel

Remember when airline travel was exciting and luxurious? Back then some airlines passed out "hand fans" to their passengers. These fans were not just for advertising or souvenirs, yet they did serve that function. Many had maps, indicating the air route and mileage. Safety instructions were also provided on some and still others had menus or wine lists.

Folklore as well as regional art decorated many of these fans. Trans World Airlines provided a fan with 27 useful phrases translated into Japanese. Japan Airline and Air France shared a fan with a recipe on it. Japan Airlines provided their first class passengers with a fan to write in their name and date commemorating crossing the International Dateline, Equator or the North Pole. Of course, the fans often served an obvious function because many an airplane cabin was without ground air conditioning.

Although Asian countries produced many of these fans, over 63 different airlines from both past and present have been known to put their name or logo on a hand fan. Of course older fans such as one mentioning Chicago and Southern Airline is valuable because of its age (pre 1953). However, age is not the only factor in collecting these fans. Style of the fan, such as the one provided by Garuda Airline made of horn and buffalo hide is quite unusual. Fans from airlines that no longer fly are definitely sought after. Airline and transport collectors as well as hand fan collectors are both finding a great appreciation of these vintage accessories from the past.

Cynthia's site: Hand Fan Pro

Cynthia's book on Celluloid Hand Fans


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