oscillating desk fan

oscillating desk fan

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Description (Brief)
One of the earliest of electric appliances, fans sold very well in an era before air conditioning. Floor fans, wall-mounted fans, ceiling fans and table-top or desk fans were all on the market in the 1890s. A wide variety of manufacturers introduced many different shapes and sizes including companies not typically associated with appliances today, like telegraph and telephone maker Western Electric. By 1920, around the time this fan was made, companies were rationalizing product lines and putting their names on products made by others. Despite the Graybar name on this fan, the actual manufacturer was motor-maker Robbins and Myers of Springfield, Ohio. Graybar, originally part of Western Electric, ceased making fans by 1910.
The construction of this fan helps to place its date of manufacture. The spot-welded steel safety cage came into widespread use in the early 1910s, as did the steel motor frame. Earlier cages typically used brass and motor frames were often heavy cast iron. This fan still has brass blades, though. While some fan makers switched to steel, aluminum and other materials in the early 1920s, Robbins and Myers continued to use brass during that decade.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electric fan
electric appliance
Other Terms
Fan; Appliances
date made
ca 1920
ca. 1920
Robbins & Myers Co.
Graybar Electric Company
overall: 20 1/4 in x 16 3/4 in x 10 1/2 in; 51.435 cm x 42.545 cm x 26.67 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from Wanda Thomas Goodnow
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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