The Church Fan

Let’s see what comes to your mind with the phrase “church fan.” You know I’m intrigued by vintage things so yes, I’m always alert for old churches with steeples along a country road or in a village. Here’s a sampling that I’ve captured with my camera over the years. I can’t even tell you where I saw many of these and the photos aren’t the best. We can’t stop for each one, so these are quickie snaps.

So, you could say that I’m a fan of vintage churches.

We like to visit restored villages in our travels and then I get to savor the architecture, the polished pews, and the peaceful silence inside. This one was in New Brunswick, Canada.

Another Kind of Church Fan

On a hot summer day in the early 1900s, the community assembled in their local church. Ladies wore lightweight dresses, their best shoes, a hat, and white gloves. The men wore suits.

The arched ceiling in the church allowed some of the heat to rise, but despite that, it was sweltering for the people as they settled into their regular pew. Immediately, the cardboard hand fans were set in motion. Each lightweight cardboard fan had a flat wooden handle. The artwork featured religious scenes and the back of the fan always contained an advertisement. Usually, it was for a funeral home, but it could be a bank or other commercial entity that probably paid for the fans.

No matter how hot you were, children knew that the fans were not for a frantic flapping to create a breeze. One gently waved the fan back-and-forth and never ever used it to whack your little sister no matter how she aggravated you.

There was another version of the church fan. It consisted of three cardboard panels fastened at the base. These spread open to see the pictures (and the advertising on the back), and there was no stick.

The fans above are available from a seller of vintage items on Etsy. Here’s the link for her vintage advertising church fans in case you have a desire to travel back in time and need a fan to keep cool while there.


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