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Un éventail monstrueux, publicitaire, théâtral et calendrier

English Abstracts :
A Frankenstein calendar ad fan

(We encourage our French reading visitors to
click here for the entire page in French !)

Note that this very fan has been exhibited from October 2018 to January 2019 at the Morgan Library (New York)
as part of the exhibition  "It's alive! Frankenstein at 200"

  Monstre détail

It is totally forbidden to reproduce any part of this website (texts or pictures) without our agreement.

The link between fans and theatre is well known. Fans collectors or researchers are aware of Nathalie Rizzoni or Georgina Letourmy's works on this matter. Without any modesty, we even quote our own publications ("Fashion and Theatre in 1825: a 'Jocko-Mazurier' Fan", FCI Bulletin, n° 93, 2011, p 42-49. or "L’éventail, moyen de propagation des œuvres littéraires ou théâtrales", in F. Boulerie (éd.), La Médiatisation du littéraire dans l'Europe des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècle, Tübingen, Narr Verlag, "Biblio 17", 2013 (p. 277-292). 

We have already shown some advertising fans on this website : a Domergue's fan for the Galeries Lafayette, two cigarets fans, some "Vents du Nord" and even "Duvelleroy in Dublin".

However most authors show very few fans before 1890. So, the Advertising - advertising Fans exhibition (The Fan Museum, 1999) shewed no true advertising fan before 1890, except one for The Grafton Fur Company, dating back to 1883  (Cat. # 128, German-British). Hélène Alexander wrote in the presentation booklet (p.4) : " was not until the mid Victorian era that fans were used for this purpose. At this time advertising fans were not, generally speaking, the "give-away" which they would later become. Their message was indirect and diffuse". 

An ordinary fan

It dates back to June 1861. It has a poor double paper leaf, which is engraved in black and hand painted in gouache. Total length 24.2 cm (6.3"). Leaf 16.0 cm (9.53")    14 wood sticks + 2 guards. 

Serge Davoudian found that such a fan was in Lady Charlotte Schreiber's collection. Lionel Cust wrote (Catalogue of the collection of fans and fan leaves presented to the trustees of the British Museum by the Lady Charlotte Schreiber,  London, Longmans and others, 1893,  p. 35) :

163. L'Ambigu-Comique.  Programme fan of a performance of " Le Monstre et Le Magicien " at the Ambigu-Comique theatre at Paris, with one scene and details of the performance; on the reverse an almanac of the months, July to December, 1861, and an advertisement of a fashionable milliner's shop, " Aux Bains Turcs."
Lithographs, printed in green aud blue respectively, and mounted on plain wooden sticks.

We have been unable to find a picture of it on the BM website.      However a French collector allows us to show this second version of the fan. Please have a look at our French page.            

face monstre

The recto shows a title "Le Monstre et le Magicien"  (The Monster and the Magician) and the name of a theatre : "Ambigu Comique".

Many informations are given about the authors (M. Ferdinand Dugué, MM Merle et Antony Béraud), the artists, especially "Mr François Ravel, as the Monster" and "M. Castellano, as Zametti the Magicien". "La petite Eugénie débutera par le rôle d'Antonio" (The young Eugénie will make her first appearance as Antonio) etc.

Aux Bains Turcs, magasin à prix fixe

The verso also is interesting, advertising an important shop selling a lot of merchandises for clothes, housefitting etc. It bears also a calendar for the second semester of 1861.

Aux Bains Turcs

Is the women standing up in her wedding gown ? Let the Fashion specialists decide.

Aux Bains Turcs, détail

Rabiet Ainé, fan maker,  predecessor to J. Ganné

On the inferior edge we see the printer's name : "Lith Rabiet Aîné, St M(? missing part of the leaf)  Popincourt 78"

We think it is Rabiet Aîné, a predecessor of J. Ganné. His first name was Joseph, and not Eugène as, following some others authors, we have sometimes written. He is known for a very few fans.  One (Paris 1878 International Exhibition)was sold by Christie's SK in 1999 (for the now very high cost of £ 552 ( $918  at that time). The British Museum  owns one of this kind as well as two others, all from Lady Charlotte Schreiber's collection : one for "Les Omnibus-Gondoles à vapeur de la Seine", with (as the 1878 fan) the address 63 Bd de Ménilmontant (Inv. 1891,0713.223) ; another, showing some Circus views and inscribed : "HIPPODROME DE PARIS/ L'ÉVENTAIL NE PEUT ÊTRE VENDU PLUS DE 30" (Inv. 1891,0713.285). About The Gondoles de la Seine, people who read French can have a look at our article in Le Vieux Papier, n° 438, October 2020.

We guess some other Rabiet Aîné fans do remain. Please tell us if you have one !

L'Ambigu Comique, a Boulevard du Crime theatre

Founded in 1769, burned in 1827, rebuilt (new location) 2, Bd Saint Martin (and finally destroyed in 1966). It was a very successful place for dramas, melodramas ans "vaudevilles".

Le Monstre et le Magicien and its origin

In 1861  Ferdinand Dugué re-writed an old "melodrama-fairy" by Jean-Toussaint Merle et Antony Béraud, played at first on the "théâtre de la porte Saint Martin" stage on June 10th 1826.

Merle et Béraud were adapting Charles Nodier (1780-1844), important romantic poet novelist and writer.
But, an English traduction presentation said in 1954,  (Frankenstein Meets the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Black Coat Press, United States, 1954) : "A rare 1826 French play by master fantasist Charles Nodier revisits the legend of Frankenstein, recasting the legendary scientist as a sorcerer and his Monster as a mute killer from Hell" .

So the monster you can see on our fan is nothing less than the immortal Frankenstein's creature, born from the mind of Mary Shelley in 1818 !

Monstre et Magicien, détail

Images sources and uses

The central illustration is very close to those issued for the 1826 play (Source The Incredible Hulk is green too but looks stronger !

MOnstre et Magicien 1826 1    Monstre et Magicien 2

But the illustration on the fan comes directly from a June 22nd 1861 poster arvertising the play (Site Gallica). If we look at a ca. 1870 photography of the "Théâtre de l'Ambigu Comique" we even can think that the same illustration was reproduced in front of the theatre's third floor.

Affiche       Théâtre de l'Ambigu Comique

With this simple fan, we believe that we provide new evidence that this small object is almost always a remarkable witness of its time. Here, it reflects both the passing of time thanks to the calendar, the business practices, the ephemeraltheatre fads but also the permanence of myths. Who among us does not fear that our twenty-first century science, with its genetic manipulations, may be a new magician creating new monsters?

It is totally forbidden to reproduce any part of this website (texts or pictures) without our agreement.

As always, thankyou for  advice, critical points of view, questions... and encouragements !

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