Cockade Fan (USA), 1860s
Label: Drilled vulcanized rubber, silk ribbon. Gift of Mrs. Henry Woodward Haynes. 1951-106-3.
What is this?
Folding cockade fan, brisé; guards are attached to center of two outer sticks, all of which, threaded with ribbon, spread to make a round form. Sticks and guards are of black vulcanized rubber, drilled with an open design of delicate vines and flowers and a scalloped edge. One guard is stamped: "Man'f Company Lambertville Goodyear patent."
Why is this important?
The words "Man’f Company Lambertville Goodyear Patent," stamped in tiny letters on the handle of this fan provide the key to its material. The Lambertville Manufacturing Company was active in the 1860s in the manufacture of vulcanized rubber. Natural rubber, tapped from tropical trees, is a "plastic" polymer material, which can be formed or molded, but in its natural state it is sticky, odiferous, and perishable. It does not hold its shape when exposed to heat, and becomes brittle when exposed to cold. In the vulcanization process, natural rubber is heated with sulfur, making it harder and less susceptible to temperature changes.
Various patents for vulcanized rubber were granted to Charles Goodyear and his brother between 1839 and 1860, transforming rubber from an impractical manufacturing material to a vastly important resource used to manufacture tires. The fan functions beautifully as a promotional souvenir commemorating one of Goodyear’s patents, showcasing its improved properties.
This object has been included in the following exhibitions: