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For sale: Wright Universal Electric Co. "Type A" DC-powered fan, circa 1892.  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Tue Sep 12th, 2017 05:00 pm
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Eric Keebler
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Many thanks to the members of the fan community who have kindly provided me with information and guidance about this fan, and who have posted advertisements from 1890s periodicals in the original thread.


The label plate (shown in a photo below) says "THE WRIGHT UNIVERSAL ELECTRIC CO.", "TYPE A", "V. 4", "238", "PAT APLD FOR". The approximate measurements are 6" depth, 7" blade-span, and 8" from base to top of blades. There is a hole in the center of the underside of the wood base, which makes sense as a number of advertisements showed this fan mounted atop various types of stands.

The fan is designed to run on DC current (specifically a Wright "electric sand" battery, which provided 5 volts DC). The word "OPEN" is written in pencil on the underside of the wood base; and as I have not been able to measure the resistance across the terminals, I suspect that the fan would need re-winding in order to be functional. It appears that someone attempted an electrical repair at some point in the distant past - note the black tape at the base of one of the green coils, and the looser winding of the wire on that side.


The motor shaft spins completely around without binding or scraping. It feels a bit sluggish (probably because it hasn't been oiled in a century or so!); but given that this fan may be the last of its kind and that I lack expertise in this field, I'm not about to attempt any maintenance whatsoever.


I am asking $25,000 for this fan. This is based on a number of offers I have received: one was for this amount, but was rescinded while I was still doing research as the buyer needed to use the available funds elsewhere; and others were close to this amount. My sincere thanks go out to several forum members who alerted me to the fan's extreme rarity and value!


I welcome any questions you may have, and would be happy to take additional measurements and photographs upon request.




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 Posted: Tue Sep 12th, 2017 06:09 pm
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Russ Huber
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The fan dates 92-93.  The Wright company relocated sales office near factory and changed the company name to the American Universal Electric Co. officially on 6/20/93.

Attached Image (viewed 1012 times):

1893.png

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 Posted: Tue Sep 12th, 2017 07:51 pm
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Lane Shirey
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This was on Philly CL as a best offer until it was pulled and posted here. 

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 Posted: Tue Sep 12th, 2017 10:59 pm
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Kevin Massey
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Lane Shirey wrote: This was on Philly CL as a best offer until it was pulled and posted here. Do you remember the asking price?  Just curious.

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 Posted: Tue Sep 12th, 2017 11:43 pm
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Lane Shirey
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Best offer... I suppose he got a REAL NICE inheritance. 

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 Posted: Wed Sep 13th, 2017 02:14 am
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Eric Keebler
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I initially posted this fan on craigslist simply out of curiosity as to what offers it might bring in - CL can be a crazy place, but occasionally also produces very interesting leads (and, believe it or not, even new friends and professional connections!). A few colleagues of mine in the pipe-organ industry who happen to be familiar with fan-collecting and antiques then provided me with several other avenues to explore, including this site. I'm not one to make an impulsive selling decision - I do my homework first, so I waited until I'd received a number of offers through multiple venues and talked with a whole bunch of knowledgeable people before finally making this official "for sale" posting. (Today I become a paid site member too -  folks here have been so friendly and helpful!)

My father frequented thrift shops, flea markets, church-basement sales, and other "treasure-hunting" venues, and thereby acquired plenty of stuff that was of only marginal value; but he also had a great eye for really interesting and important items. He did not keep things well-organized (to put it mildly) - everything was indiscriminately mixed together. This has meant that every box, every bag, every pile he filled with stuff has had to be sorted item-by-item, a process that we've tackled across several years. We've donated a surprisingly large number of rare and/or historically-significant objects to local and regional museums - and have also filled up a lot of trash-bags. We've sorted thousands of books, one title at a time; jars of coins, most of little value but a few of great rarity; cigar-boxes filled with assortments of random hardware, parts of old cassette-tapes, and historical memorabilia. It's been exhausting - hiring a dumpster and filling it to the brim in a weekend simply wasn't an option we could choose without knowing we'd be tossing all sorts of significant objects in the process.

This is where the whole idea of karma comes in. My old room has been one of the "last frontiers" of this mammoth sorting effort (since I left for college in the 90s, the room had gradually accumulated stuff on every available surface). Hacking my way through this jungle of junk eventually brought this old fan back into view... for me, this is really a rather emotional and surreal experience: the best has been saved for last, a totally-unexpected and wonderful prize at the end of a grueling labor of love, a "thanks for cleaning up for me" from beyond.

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 Posted: Wed Sep 13th, 2017 04:44 am
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Russ Huber
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Eric Keebler wrote:

I am asking $25,000 for this fan. My sincere thanks go out to several forum members who alerted me to the fan's extreme rarity and value!




Did any of these several forum members offer to buy the fan after they alerted you?

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 Posted: Wed Sep 13th, 2017 12:17 pm
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Lane Shirey
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Eric, welcome to the club, and best of luck selling it. Hopefully with the proceeds, you can buy a fan or 2 that hold more interest for you and you can enjoy the hobby of restoring old fans. 

We're hosting a regional fan meet in Southeastern PA ( Downingtown, PA) this Saturday.  Why don't you bring the fan and put it on display for all to enjoy. You'll see many other cool fans also! We'd love to have you join us!
Who knows, maybe you'll get a better offer. I have a safe area reserved  for rare fans. 

Last edited on Wed Sep 13th, 2017 12:22 pm by Lane Shirey

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 Posted: Wed Sep 13th, 2017 03:12 pm
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Craig Robbins
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Hey Eric, sorry for your loss. It is a daunting task and I also have done it. Best of luck with your fan and welcome to the club...Craig 

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 Posted: Thu Sep 14th, 2017 02:41 pm
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Jeff Earl
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second mortgage or sell a kidney?......decisions,decisions

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 Posted: Fri Sep 15th, 2017 07:15 pm
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Eric Keebler
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Lane Shirey wrote: Eric, welcome to the club, and best of luck selling it. Hopefully with the proceeds, you can buy a fan or 2 that hold more interest for you and you can enjoy the hobby of restoring old fans. 

We're hosting a regional fan meet in Southeastern PA ( Downingtown, PA) this Saturday.  Why don't you bring the fan and put it on display for all to enjoy. You'll see many other cool fans also! We'd love to have you join us!
Who knows, maybe you'll get a better offer. I have a safe area reserved  for rare fans. 

Sounds interesting, thanks for the invitation - I'd be happy to attend, and to put my fan on display.  :D

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 Posted: Fri Sep 15th, 2017 10:40 pm
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Daniel OToole
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Yep,big money

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 Posted: Sat Sep 16th, 2017 12:56 am
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Steve Stephens
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 I know that some fans have sold for over $25,000 but I have not seen one sell myself for that much.  $26,110 was the most that I have actually seen a fan get bid up to, a c.1891 Leib bipolar fan.   I was the first bidder just for fun as i knew it would go very high.  $26,100 in 2007 on eBay.  This is the fan-







Leib either made the Edison fans or designed them I think.






Last edited on Sat Sep 16th, 2017 01:20 am by Steve Stephens

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 Posted: Sat Sep 16th, 2017 01:23 am
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Eric Keebler
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Steve Stephens wrote: A buyer might step up for well under $5000.   I know that some fans have sold for over $25,000 but I have not seen one sell myself for that much.  $26,110 was the most that I have actually seen a fan get bid up to
and not for a toy fan but a c.1891 Leib bipolar fan, complete, rare, and original.   I was the first bidder just for fun as i knew it would go very high.  $26,100 in 2007 on eBay.  This is the fan-

That is indeed a wildly-cool fan!

I've received enough five-digit offers already for this one, that I'm not about to let it go for four digits. This fan has been in my life for a long time, and I'm in no rush to find a buyer. :cool:

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 Posted: Sat Sep 16th, 2017 02:02 am
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Steve Stephens
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You probably have more knowledge about your fan than what I might value it at and, with 5 figure offers, it would be silly to sell for less.

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 Posted: Sat Sep 16th, 2017 12:17 pm
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John Trier
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Eric Keebler wrote: Steve Stephens wrote: A buyer might step up for well under $5000.   I know that some fans have sold for over $25,000 but I have not seen one sell myself for that much.  $26,110 was the most that I have actually seen a fan get bid up to
and not for a toy fan but a c.1891 Leib bipolar fan, complete, rare, and original.   I was the first bidder just for fun as i knew it would go very high.  $26,100 in 2007 on eBay.  This is the fan-

That is indeed a wildly-cool fan!

I've received enough five-digit offers already for this one, that I'm not about to let it go for four digits. This fan has been in my life for a long time, and I'm in no rush to find a buyer. :cool:



I may be wrong, but if I were interested in selling this fan, and I had any offers hovering around 25K, I'd mark it sold. You might seek the advice of collectors who know the importance of this sort of fan.  I agree with Steve at under 5K and I've been collecting since 1990.  There were hundreds of electoral companies during this time.  Rarity vs. desirability ......... Put it on ebay with a reserve and get the worlds opinion. 

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 Posted: Sun Sep 17th, 2017 12:41 am
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Eric Keebler
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John Trier wrote:
I may be wrong, but if I were interested in selling this fan, and I had any offers hovering around 25K, I'd mark it sold. You might seek the advice of collectors who know the importance of this sort of fan.  I agree with Steve at under 5K and I've been collecting since 1990.  There were hundreds of electoral companies during this time.  Rarity vs. desirability ......... Put it on ebay with a reserve and get the worlds opinion. 

As a total neophyte when it comes to fans, one of the interesting things I'm discovering about this subculture is that different folks collect different types of fans and have different motivations and goals (I had some great conversations about this with several people at today's "Philly Phan Phest"). A corollary to this is that someone who's especially drawn to rare or historically-significant fans may be willing to pay more or less for a given fan than someone who is evaluating it purely for its aesthetic appeal (or mechanical ingenuity, and so on).

I'm having a great time learning the basics, meeting new people, and researching (I've just been asked to write an article on this fan for the AFCA magazine - how cool!). There are few collectors for whom this fan is both highly desirable and affordable, so I may not make a quick sale... and I'm totally fine with that, as I'm having fun along the way.

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 Posted: Sun Sep 17th, 2017 01:22 am
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Russ Huber
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Eric Keebler wrote: There are few collectors for whom this fan is both highly desirable and affordable, so I may not make a quick sale... and I'm totally fine with that, as I'm having fun along the way.








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 Posted: Sun Sep 17th, 2017 01:08 pm
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Daniel OToole
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Very cool 

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 Posted: Sun Sep 17th, 2017 01:09 pm
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Daniel OToole
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Agree Eric

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 Posted: Mon Sep 18th, 2017 09:07 pm
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Jim Kovar
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Hi, Eric


You wrote:
I've just been asked to write an article on this fan for the AFCA magazine - how cool!
If you do decide to write an article for "The Fan Collector Magazine," I could supply high resolution period ads and articles of the Wright fan.

~Jim

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 Posted: Mon Sep 18th, 2017 10:37 pm
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Eric Keebler
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That would be great - I've only seen the Google Books scans, and would love to get hold of something with better image quality. I'll make a note of your offer and PM you about this, thanks!

Jim Kovar wrote: Hi, Eric


You wrote:
I've just been asked to write an article on this fan for the AFCA magazine - how cool!
If you do decide to write an article for "The Fan Collector Magazine," I could supply high resolution period ads and articles of the Wright fan.

~Jim

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