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IN THIS ISSUE

One Eck of a Fan!
By Mark Neeley

Over the years I have had the pleasure of owning some really unique antique and vintage fans. Many of these machines were built at the beginning of the 20th Century by incredibly ingenious industrialists. Some were made by large manufacturers that even the most reclusive individual has heard of. Names like Westinghouse or General Electric should ring a bell. Others were manufactured by smaller firms that most people have never heard of. One of those smaller manufacturers was located in Belleville, New Jersey and named the Eck Dynamo and Motor Company. Its unusual name came from its Swedish immigrant founder, Charles A. Eck. The Eck firm manufactured a line of bracket, desk and table fans to compliment their line of industrial motors and dynamos. Charles Eck is credited with developing the first gear driven oscillating desk fan in 1903. His invention proved to work well and the idea caught on quickly as manufacturers aspired to move the air from a fan around a room with a positive geared system.

Actually this inspiration for moving air was nothing new for Eck. He had also patented a vane driven oscillator that he quickly allowed the Robbins and Myers Company of Springfield, Ohio to purchase for their new oscillating desk fan introduced around 1904. Eck marketed his fan as the “Eck Hurricane” oscillating fan and the first versions of this model were of a spherical shaped cast iron housing to enclose its Direct Current motor. When compared to other desk fans that were manufactured from 1905-1915, the Eck Hurricane could be described as somewhat archaic looking.

Many other fans manufactured during the period had more graceful designs that could easily place them among the other items that defined the gilded age. The Eck Hurricane was designed as a utilitarian machine that cared little for its “fancy pants” competitor’s frills and glamour. The Eck Hurricane had a job to do and it would do that job well. It was a no nonsense machine that was built for the purpose of moving air, period.

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