Period: Art Deco
Length: 11 inches
Open Span: 16.5 inches (at maximum)
The paper leaf fan with art deco inspired printed scene in scarlet red, turquoise and yellow on a buff ground showing two stylised greyhounds chasing a hare with angular lettering ‘Luna Park’ above and the same in Chinese, the wording repeated on the reverse though in red and black with geometric banding and depicted area map with long eared stylised rabbit.
The condition is superb considering the fragile nature of the fan, with the mechanism still in working order and with only light wear to the paper, the colours strong. Very few have survived from the period and we cannot find another example having been sold in recent times.
During the 1920’s Luna Park, Shanghai was the dog racing centre in China and was soon operating two nights a week with stands and terraces packed with foreigners and Chinese. To the Chinese it was a grand form of gambling and with English officials and kennel staff to conduct it, they knew that they would get a square deal. It was so successful that the Chinese authorities complained to London that they were demoralising the Chinese and an Order in Council was issued forbidding British subjects from participating in ownership and management. Within a few months two tracks were operating, owned and operated by Chinese (some notorious for their interest in opium smuggling) with a light sprinkling of Continentals. However, the Chinese officials got their rake off, needless to say, becoming ever more rapacious in their demands. Thus, the racing became a farce, and the mortality amongst the dogs extremely heavy. Chinese race-goers soon lost confidence, all round crookedness soon brought its own reward, and the tracks closed down in 1931 due to lack of support.
The term Art Deco encompasses the distinctive styles in art, architecture and design, and is typified by bright bold colours, and stylized designs derived from the onset of industrialism, as well as artistic movements such as modernism, cubism, and futurism. It is one of the best loved, most influential, instantly recognisable, international, and elegant of all artistic periods.
This special item represents a very scarce survival and proves a highly desirable acquisition for collectors of Chinese history, Art Deco, antique hand fans or simply rare decorative pleasures.