Jason Clarke Antiques

French Edwardian Clockwork Zephyr Fan by The Zephyr Fan Company Paris


For sale, a French Edwardian period nickel plated clockwork zephyr fan by The Zephyr Company of Paris.

This ingenious device is comprised of a nickel plated brass body with weighted base, reeded column and windmill styled head all of which is festooned with Art Nouveau type decoration and two mythological characters which presumably depicts Zephyrus, the ancient God of the West wind and bringer of summer breezes.  The fan head has three blades connected to a fixed shaft with a screw mechanism to the top which serves as a speed regulator or rudimentary on/off switch. The back is fitted with its original decorative key and once fully wound, the fan blows for around fourteen minutes before the spring is fully unwound.

The base of the head is stamped with, “The Zephyr Co Paris” to one side and “GK Patent SGDG” to the other and the same is repeated around the keyhole at the back. The latter initials relate to the patentee Gabriel Kaiser who took out the patent for this fan on the 12th of July 1902. Little is known of Kaiser although his invention included numerous variations of the fan according to the information lodged in the patent application.

The following can be read in conjunction with the patent figures provided in the listing images and I caveat that this was subject to translation so may not be a precise replication of the original:

 “French Patent No: 322.961 – 12th July 1902 – Mr Gabriel Kaiser

The invention relates to an apartment fan system operating, in principle, by a movement of a clock, but established in a special way.

My invention will be better understood from the description which follows, referring to the drawing specimen appendix, in which:

Figure 1 shows my fan system seen from the front

Figure 2 is a corresponding plan

Fig 3 is a side view

Figs 4, 5, 6 & 7 are variants of my fan system

Fig 8 shows the separate propellor branches

In these various figures, the same reference letters designate the same parts.

As seen in this drawing, my home fan system has two barrels a and b mounted between cheeks c, d. The crowns e f of the two barrels are engaged with a pinion g forming part of an shaft h.

Shaft h has a ratchet on it. This ratchet leads, by a pawl j, a toothed wheel k engaged with a pinion l wedge on the shaft m equipped with the pulley n.

On the pulley n passes a belt o which actuates a smaller pulley p stalled on the axis q of the propellors r.

A screw lock to stop the running of the device

For reassembly, a key or a crank is placed on the axis u. This axis is provided, for this purpose, a toothed wheel v meshing with a pinion x integral with the shaft h, engaged by its pinion g with the crowns of the barrels.

Instead of having the propellers vertically as in Figures 1, 2, & 3, I can place it horizontally as in Figures 4 & 5. In this case, I put a pinion on the shaft q and I do it control the propeller shaft z by means of the pinion w.

In figs 6 & 7, I represented a smaller fan. This fan may have in its foot a barometer, a little pendulum or alarm, and so on. The wings of my propellers can be fixed on their hubs, or I can form them of movable branches, like fig 8. In this case, they place one behind the other at rest, and the centrifugal force causes them to spread.

The shapes, details, accessories, materials and dimensions of my fan system can of course vary without changing the principle of my invention.

In summary, I claim as my entire and exclusive property by the present patent application, the system of apartment fan, characterized by the arrangement and the combination of the parts which constitute it; all in its entirety, as described in principle, above and represented in the drawing annex specimen.

Certified original. By proxy of Mr. Kaiser.”

These fans are rarely encountered in such good condition and with their original plating intact, a great example of a rare and early fan. It should be noted that although electricity existed at this point in time, it was not common and these fans had a short but popular lifespan until electricity became more widely available. It remains in fully working order.

Circa 1905

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