Madison man collects hundreds of vintage ceiling fans
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Madison man has a massive collection of something most people own, but likely don’t think much about.
“It’s cool to have it going slow enough that you can still see the blades, but fast enough that you can see that it operates,” said Dan Neuman.
Dan, or as his friends call him, “Spiffy”, Neuman has been collecting ceiling fans since he was in the fourth grade.
“You still find them free on the curbs, free on Craigslist,” said Neuman.
Today he has about 500 vintage ceiling fans in his collection, although he is constantly buying, selling, and trading online. Most of the fans are decades old, from his childhood in the 1970′s and 1980′s.
“It’s a pretty niche interest so if I don’t buy it then there’s a good chance it might end up on the curb or in the scrapyard or something like that,” explained Neuman.
Hanging in his home is a rotation of his favorites, but he also rents a large barn with a fellow fan enthusiast to store the rest of his collection.
“Now I finally have the opportunity to go through and say ok this is the stuff I really want to keep, and this is the stuff somebody else might want,” said Neuman.
For Neuman it’s more than a hobby, it’s a way to connect to his past. “Seeing a fan that was special to me as a kid takes me back to that happy place in childhood,” told Neuman.
He’s been interested in fans, or “anything that spins”, for as long as he can remember.
“We didn’t have a lot of money, but I would try to you know beg to on my birthday to a restaurant that had the fans. Menards, I think, was my favorite. Menards had a great fan display when I was a kid,” said Neuman.
His very first buy was at a garage sale in the 4th grade. “It was the same one, like the same model, that was installed in Dorn Hardware on Verona Road, which was my dad’s favorite store,” explained Neuman.
In middle and high school, he’d even draw sketches of his favorites that he’d see around town, in hopes of owning them one day. Today those dreams have come full circle.
“You know there’s parts of your childhood that you’ll think you’ll never see again and being able to rebuild it for me is one of the important pieces,” said Neuman.
Now he connects with other collectors on social media, hosts a podcast, and has a YouTube channel all dedicated to his craft.
“If you go on the internet there’s websites and there’s Facebook groups and there’s entire communities based around people that collect fans,” explained Neuman.
Dan’s other passion is music. He plays the guitar and organ and works at a church where he is a music minister. He’s also a proud father and husband.
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