for Summer 2001:
Curtis and Crocker "Lamp Fan," about 1887
SI catalog #330,647;
Early fans were often simply motors with blades
attached. Adapting motors in this fashion led to some interesting
features. The Curtis and Crocker (or C&C) lamp fan pictured above
is currently on display in the exhibition Lighting A Revolution
at the National Museum of American History.
The fan's name plate reads: "C&C Electric Motor Co., New York,
U.S.A.", "Patented Dec. 21, 1886, Pats. App'd for", "Speed 1500 Type
1N No.4405 Amperes __ Volts 110".
This fan came to the Smithsonian in 1963, with an assortment of electrical
devices donated by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
The light bulb on this fan gave users a way to control the fan's
speed. Turning the light bulb on increased electrical resistance
in the circuit, slowing the motor. The bulb also acted as a primitive
voltage regulator, glowing brighter in the event of a power surge.
The bulb displayed in this fan dates from about 1910.
Like many early fan motors, the C&C lamp fan
features a bi-polar design for use with direct current (DC) electricity.
Other design features typical of 1890-era fans include heavy cast
iron construction, a footed base and brass blades. Notice the exposed
motor and the lack of a cage around the blades. By the turn of the
century most fans were equipped with switches for regulating speed
and protective guards.
This fan measures 41 cm (16 inches) high by
31 cm (12 inches) wide by 28 cm (11 inches) deep with the lamp installed.
For additional information about the development
of electric fans see:
- Skolfield, W.K., A Century of Early Fans,
(Maqua Co.: Schenectady, NY, 1957); and the weekly trade journal
The Electrical World.
- "An Electric Breeze," a temporary exhibition
showing fans developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
now open in the Electricity Hall of the National Museum of American