As DC area residents are enjoying – or suffering, depending on one’s temperament – a little early-April heat wave, I imagine some people would appreciate a nice giveaway advertising paper fan about now.  This example was collected at the Rockville Fair around 1920, by a member of the England family of Rockville.

The Rockville Fair – precursor to today’s Montgomery County Agricultural Fair – was held every August on fairgrounds located where Richard Montgomery High School is today.  Just like the modern fair, the earlier version was host to vendors from across the county and neighboring cities, vendors who wanted you to remember them and their wares after the fair was over – and who doesn’t love to pick up a useful freebie or two? 

Our paper fan is one of 25 similar fans collected, most likely, by Mary England Ward.  All but four of them were distributed by Washington, DC piano retailers, although it’s not clear whether this is because Miss England (as she was until her 1928 marriage) had a penchant for piano stores, or because piano stores had the prettiest fans.   The printed images vary; some are cute children and animals, some are patriotic in theme, and a few have pseudo “Oriental” scenes, like this one.  Most of the fans are simply cardboard ovals stapled to a wooden handle, but this fan is a little fancier; perhaps the Percy S. Foster Piano Company had a big advertising budget that year.