Feather Fan

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Turkey tail feather open fan where the leaf is composed of brown mottled feathers tipped with a darker brown. The handle is made from the woven quills, with a wire run through quills to spread and hold open the feathers in place. Three smaller feathers with iridescence are positioned where the leaf transitions into the handle, and a black grosgrain ribbon is tied at the end of the handle.

This fan is attributed to Tobias Scott, an African American fan maker who worked in Charleston for about 40 years. Tobias Scott was born in 1827 with slave status on a James Island plantation in South Carolina. As a young man, his enslaver permitted him to make and sell feather fans in his spare time, and eventually Scott was able to purchase his freedom. He married free woman Christiana Rivers (1826-1912) on February 3, 1848 and they continued to live on James Island. After the Civil War, Tobias and Christiana moved, with their five children, to a house on Water Street in Charleston. There, Scott continued to make and sell feather fans. He was often mentioned in the local newspapers for his extensive civic engagement.