The Fann-Makers Grievance

Today’s fragments come from a 17th century text entitled The Fann-Makers GRIEVANCE.  It reveals some lovely details about the art of early modern fans and fan making, and also highlights the issues faced by an industry suffering the results of overseas out-sourcing.

‘The Manufactures of Fanns and Fann-sticks, tho’ it may seem slight to some, is certainly at this time of very great Consequence to a considerable breach of the Trade of England; for that it employs multitudes of Men, Women and Children in making the Sticks, Papers, Leathers, in ordering the Silk (which Paper, Leather and Silk is Manufactured in this Nation) likewise great numbers employed in Painting, Varnishing and Jappanning, and preparing abundance of Foreign Commodities, viz.of Whale-bone, Tortoise-shell, Ivory, Box, Ebony, which Wood is imported from Turkey and Russia, and is bought in Exchange for English Cloth.  Likewise several other sorts of Wood from the West-Indies to the great advantage as well of His Majesties Customs, as of the Woolen Manufacture; by which it is obvious that the King’s Customs and the Woollen Manufactures are very much advanced, and that great Numbers of Poor People may be continually employed in Work, who otherwise must inevitably perish; or, as some already are, become a burden to their Parishes, unless there be a stop put to the Importation of Indian Fanns, and Fann-sticks, of which vast quantities are daily brought over, and it can be proved, that Five Hundred and Fifty Thousand have lately been Imported, which Hundreds of Poor Artificers are too sensible of, by the general decay of their Trade, and are in great fear that they and their Families shall be reduced to the utmost Want and Misery, unless the Honourable House of Commons relieve their pressing Necessities by prohibiting the Importation of Indian Fanns and Fann-sticks.’

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