While in Philadelphia attending the Constitutional Convention in 1787, George Washington purchased a fan chair. Its current whereabouts are unknown, but this version likely resembles the original. Invented in 1786 for artist Charles Willson Peale by John Cram, a Philadelphia "instrument maker", the mechanism consisted of a treadle below the sitter's feet that moved the fan suspended above the chair. Peale hoped it would be "useful to the studious and others that are obliged to sit at their employments . . . to keep them cool. . . ." Washington installed his chair in his study, most likely for the convenience of the private secretaries who he employed to organize his military and plantation records. More


c. 1786-1800



Pine (seat), hickory (bow and spindles), chestnut (arms), maple (legs and stretchers), paint, pasteboard, leather, paper


Overall (H x W x D): 76 5/16 in. x 25 3/4 in. x 28 3/8 in. (193.83 cm x 65.41 cm x 72.07 cm)


Purchase, 1982

Object Number



Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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