I get this question, a lot. I also get “So I have this fan and it’s really old and I just want it to look brand new.” And more times than not their fan, isn’t that old. The way that true collectors distinguish fans is ‘Antique’ and ‘Vintage’. Antique is anything before 1950, and Vintage is anything after 1950. So some people have fans that are 1950’s and while yes thats old, in the grand scheme of things it’s not that old compared to the 1904 fan I restored for a client earlier this year.
Now when it comes to restoring fans, I try to not go over 1920’s. Sure if you have anything after that and you want it to run again, I have no problem rewiring it and making sure the blade is balanced, but to put a brand new restoration on a fan that isn’t that rare, just isn’t financially smart. If you take a fan thats only worth $100 and I put a “over $500” restoration on it, it’s still only worth $100. But if you take let’s say a complete GE Coin-Op (by complete I mean it has everything in working order) that is valued at $1000 and I put the same restoration on it, it’s now worth $1500-$3000. Now I have had some people who are willing to spend the money on a $50-100 fan because it’s a family heirloom or they remember their grandfather running it at his desk and they just want it to look brand new and they want it to run again. Thats fine, but be warned, I will give you the same spiel I just gave you here. When I do a restoration on a fan that’s only worth $100, I feel bad charging someone 5-6 times that and the value not increase.
I also try to stay away from fan’s 1920’s and newer because, well for a lack of better words, they’re crappier. Stamped Steel to Aluminum to Plastic…no, no and hell no! Give me your cast iron, your brass, your old fans yearning to run free! (Those who know what it says at the base of the statue of liberty will like that reference.) Face it the old fans, just like anything else were made better, sturdier and unfortunately gave way to the cheaper, more mass-producible (is that a word?) products. GE made some 300,000 fans between 1894-1908…pretty sure a small fan company could do that in a week now.
So is your fan “old”? Compared to a dyson-no-blade fan, yes. Is it important to you because its been in your family for 50 years? Absolutely! Will I restore it to brand new? If that is truly what your heart desires. But I will strongly advise against it. I have no problem rewiring it, and balancing the blade. I’ll clean the cob webs out and put some new oil in it, but I’m not in the business of taking advantage of an unsuspecting client. I’m in the business of Making Old, New.