Who designed the longest-lasting vintage ceiling fans?

Craftmade makes the longest-running ceiling fan with no design changes, the Craftmade CXL. Fanimation is close with its Bourbon Street. The Hunter Original hasn’t changed much. Casablanca revitalized the ceiling fan market with the Panama, almost unchanged.

Steve, Ceiling Fan Expert at Hansen Wholesale
By Steve,
Ceiling Fan Expert
at Hansen Wholesale

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Steve is a proponent for that old adage. Today, ceiling fan expert Steve breaks down some now-vintage ceiling fans from fandom. These ceiling fans were well-designed and sold well straight away. They continue to sell well, and they’ve needed no or almost no changes since introduction. On the subject of Vintage Ceiling Fans, Andrew honed in on which Victorian Ceiling Fans work with certain architecture and interior design styles.


Vintage Ceiling Fans: Some Traditional Designs Are Still the Best

July 14th, 2017

First of all, what we in the trade call Traditional Ceiling Fans, some call Vintage Ceiling Fans. Others consider Vintage Ceiling Fans to be what we call Fancy or Victorian Ceiling Fans. Rustic and Mission/Craftsman Style Ceiling Fans that have a vintage look. Many Lantern Ceiling Fans and Chandelier-Fans (Fandeliers) are vintage in style. We have all those. This article is about a few Traditional Ceiling Fans. These are traditional proven designs so refined we consider them vintage and fine, like the best wines.


Why is it important that quality manufacturers haven’t changed some now vintage ceiling fan designs in 40 years?

There is a trick the big box stores and home centers use with their house brands. They phase out models every year and bring in new, very similar models to replace them. Sometimes they simply change the name and model number and call it a new model! This is not good for customers when their fan breaks down a year or two later and there are no parts fix it.

Built-in obsolescence. The box stores would rather sell you a new cheap fan - and a warranty - than help you fix a broken one.

The great ceiling manufacturers don’t do that. First, they produce quality ceiling fans that don’t break as often. And they’re not interested in selling you lots of cheap fans. They work to make a great product. Many ceiling fans we sell have available parts because the designs are phenomenal. They’ve been made the same way for years. And all our fans have great warranties.

But I digress. Let’s look at some Vintage Ceiling Fans that have stood the test of time.


Hunter Original Ceiling Fan

Hunter Original Vintage Ceiling Fan

The Hunter Original is actually not still original. But considering we think the design originated in the 1920s, it’s pretty danged close! It looks more or less the same on the outside, but it’s had a few minor internal tweaks through the years. There is now a chrome screw plug on the bottom of the motor housing that wasn’t there before.

Hunter Original Vintage Ceiling Fan - lifestyle

This is one of the fans that defined ceiling fan and it’s still around, more or less unchanged. It’s still available in black, one of its original finishes. Very few of the vintage ceiling fan designs are available in black.

One of the keys to success for the Original is that it has always been a “hotel favorite.” It really is the last of the vintage ceiling fans. It’s the last of the cast iron, oil bath, leather bearing fans. That’s an incredible testament to its design. You know what they say, “They don’t make them like they used to.”


Casablanca Panama Ceiling Fan

Casablanca Panama Vintage Ceiling Fan

Casablanca is a really important manufacturer, and their claim to fame is the Panama. The Casablanca Panama is actually not still completely original. It’s almost the same to look at, but it’s had a few minor internal tweaks through the years. It’s been through iterations of motor and controls. In fact, Casablanca was the pioneer in RF Controlled ceiling fans. If you have a ceiling fan with a remote wall control, you owe it to Casablanca. Before the Casablanca Panama, all ceiling fans were pull chains.

Controls and motor aside, this is exactly the same fan that revived the Ceiling Fan market in the 1970s. For fandom, it’s a very important fan. At least from an industry insider’s perspective.


True Vintage Ceiling Fan: Craftmade CXL

Craftmade CXL Vintage Ceiling Fan

This is the one. This Craftmade CXL ceiling fan has been around since the mid-1990s and no part of the design has changed at all in all that time. I’m talking down to the pretzel-style blade holders. It was a well-conceived fan then, and it’s a well-conceived ceiling fan now. It still works great, so Craftmade should stick to their plan: Don’t change it!


True Vintage Ceiling Fan: Fanimation Bourbon Street

Fanimation Bourbon Street Vintage Ceiling Fan

The Bourbon Street is an oldy but a goody, too! It’s been around since the late 1970s or early ‘80s. The Bourbon Street created a whole new category of ceiling fan - the belt-driven ceiling fan. Nothing in this ceiling fan’s design has changed since Fanimation brought it to market.


Emerson Designer Ceiling Fan

Emerson Designer Vintage Ceiling Fan

Emerson’s Designer is another traditional ceiling fan that has become a classic. Nothing in this ceiling fan’s design changed since Emerson introduced it in the early 1990s. The Designer is important because it was the first fan Emerson shipped partially assembled. All other Emerson models had to be completely hand-assembled by the customer.


Casablanca Stealth Ceiling Fan

Casablanca Stealth Vintage Ceiling Fan

Another big vintage ceiling fan in fandom: the Casablanca Stealth.. It quickly became one of the best-selling ceiling fans of all time. Casablanca introduced their new contemporary ceiling fan just before the turn of the century. That makes it at time of writing twenty or 25 years old. Every other manufacturer copied it, with or without a twist of their own. Craftmade made the Solo (which has seen some changes). Emerson made the Midway - which looks nothing like the Stealth now - but was similar when introduced a few years later. Minka Aire has the Raptor - again, a take-off on the Casablanca Stealth.

Since introduction, the Stealth has gotten new light kits, a new motor, and new controls. It’s truly a design that has lasted the test of time. The Stealth is single-handedly responsible for defining the Contemporary Ceiling Fan category. There have been a few great Modern Ceiling Fans made since, but this is the original. Like Classic Rock, this is the vintage contemporary ceiling fan.


Emerson Premium Ceiling Fan

Emerson Premium Select Vintage Ceiling Fan

The Emerson Premium is a standard bearer in the industry. Remember the Casablanca Panama? The Emerson Premium used to be a copy. Emerson was supplying the motors to Casablanca. Then, they decided to go around the middleman with their own ceiling fan, a replica of the ultra-successful Panama.

I enjoy ceiling fan history. I’m one of Hansen Wholesale’s anoraks - there are a couple of us. I enjoy sharing my knowledge about vintage ceiling fans.

Thanks for coming by. I hope this helps!

- Steve
800-201-1193 x114
Vintage Ceiling Fan Expert, Hansen Wholesale