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Map, Cartographic Curiosity, Folding Fan, Archery and Riddles, Sudlow, London, Antique, c. 1793

Edward Sudlow
Fan Decorated with Archer, Map and Riddles
Sudlow’s Fan Warehouse, London: c. 1793
Hand-colored etching and stipple engraving
Paper fan, mounted on wooden sticks, as issued
10.5 x 20 inches, overall in glazed mahogany case
Price on request

An engraved folding paper fan decorated with a medley of riddles, short texts, and illustrations, and prominently including a partial map of Europe. Riddles, or enigmas, as they were also known, were popular during the late 18th century and were composed by many prominent public figures. This fan appears to be intended as a handy compendium and parlor amusement. The fan is not dated, but the engraver Sudlow was active from at least 1784 until the mid-1790s. In addition, there is an illustration of an archer on the left side and list of representatives to a meeting of English archers in 1793 on the right side. Thus the fan can be dated circa 1793. The fan is mounted on wooden sticks, as issued, enclosed within a conforming early glazed mahogany presentation case.

Product description continued below.


The partial map of Europe is titled “The Seat of War.” Major countries shown on the map, fully shaded in in various colors, are as follows, west to east: Ireland, England (excluding Scotland), Spain (very partial), France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany (partial), Switzerland, and Italy (partial). In the Mediterranean Sea, the map includes Corsica and Sardinia and also shows a small part of Northern Africa  south of Sardinia. Given the fact that the map centers on France, the 1793 date for the Archers’ meeting, and the known publication history of Sudlow’s Fan Warehouse (c. 1784 to 1790s) it seems likely that the title “The Seat of War” refers to the War of the First Coalition (1792-1797). In that war, several European powers, including Great Britain, fought against France following the French Revolution.

The archer in the lower left is shown drawing back his bow and aiming at a target with the motto of the English chivalric Order of the Garter, “Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.” In a line of type following the contour of the bow is the caption “A bow back’d with Whalebone, will prevent it from breaking.” In the lower right is a corresponding “List of Stewards appointed for the several Meetings of Archers on Blackheath, for the Year 1793. Duke of Leeds President.” Indeed, it is conceivable that the fan was issued as a souvenir for this event. Surrounding the archer are other riddles in lines of type that form braided and spiraling shapes. There is also a riddle in French.

In the center is an outline of a tree trunk, labeled at the base “Fairlop Oak” with numbered riddles in lines of type taking the form of branches, and the answers within the trunk, for example “5. Tho I dance at a ball Yet I’m nothing at all,” the answer being “Shadow.” The Fairlop Oak was a renowned English tree, several hundred years old and having a trunk with a circumference of some 36 feet that was located in the rural outskirts of London. At the time of publication of this fan, it was still alive, but was later blown down in 1820, after suffering fire damage.

In the upper left corner, outlined in a scalloped border, is a riddle attributed to Charles James Fox (1749-1806) a prominent British Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned 38 years from 1768 until his death. Fox is also known to have composed a number of riddles. The following is the text of Fox’s riddle:

Permit me Madam with the profoundest respect for once to come uncall’d into your presence and by dividing myself add greatly to my consequence. So exalted am I in the character of my first, that I have trampled on the pride of Kings, and the greatest Potentates on Earth have bowed down to embrace; & yet the dirtiest kennel in the dirtiest street is not too foul, for to have me for its inmate; In my second what infinite variety, I am rich as the eastern Nabob, yet poor as the weeping object of your benevolence, I am mild & gentle as the Spring yet savage & cruel as the wintry blast, from the authority I dare pronounce myself your superior, tho few are the instances that prove it & ten thousand are the proofs against it; I am young, beautiful and blooming, yet old deformed & wretched, I am — but your Ladyship is tired, and wishes my reunion — it is done and my consequence is lost, and I have no other merit than remaining as at first your Ladyship’s very obed’t Serv’t, C.J. Fox.

Edward Sudlow (act. 1784-1793) was a British engraver in London, principally of maps and fans, but also engraved music. Sudlow engraved maps for Paul Rapin de Thoyras, John Haywood, and John Harrison, among others. He also published fan leaves under the imprint Sudlow’s Fan Warehouse, including one featuring the Prince and Princess of Wales in the collection of the British Museum that, like the one offered here, also features a medley of prints and riddles. The Huntington Library has another titled “The ladies’ new casino fan” that is engraved with the rules of the card game called Casino. A double hemisphere map of the world published by Sudlow in 1788 is in the collection of the National Library of Australia.

Full publication information lower right incorporated into the Archer’s meetings list: Publish’d Sudlow’s Fan Warehouse, 191 Strand

Condition: Fan generally very good with the usual overall toning, wear handling. Few minor short tears and abrasions restored, with some very minor abraded losses. Old restored break to fan guard (lower right stick). Fan mounted with mucilage glue to paperboard, apparently long ago, appears stable and not affecting the fan leaves. Mahogany case very good with the usual wear, shrinkage and minor restorations.


“A new map of the world with the latest discoveries.” National Library of Australia. (3 April 2020).

Bryant, Mark. Dictionary of Riddles. New York: Routledge, 2019. pp. 45, 161-162. (4 April 2020).

“Charles James Fox.” Wikipedia. 3 April 2020. (4 April 2020).

“Fairlop and Fullwell Cross, Redbridge.” Hidden London. 2020. (3 April 2020).

“Fan: The ladies’ new casino fan…” (3 April 2020).

Hargrove, Alfred E. Anecdotes of Archery…Revised and Brought Down to the Present Time… York, England: Hargrove’s Library, 1845. pp. 66-71. Online at Google Books: (3 April 2020).

“Print/medley/fan.” British Museum. 2020. (3 April 2020).

“Sudlow, E.” (3 April 2020).

“War of the First Coalition.” Wikipedia. 2 April 2020. (3 April 2020).

Worms, Laurence and Ashley Baynton-Williams. British Map Engravers : A Dictionary of Engravers, Lithographers and Their Principal Employers to 1850. London : Rare Book Society, 2011. p. 642.

Additional information


18th Century