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Madison man collects hundreds of vintage ceiling fans

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A Madison man has a huge collection of something most people own, but probably don’t think much about.

“It’s cool to have it slow enough that you can still see the blades, but fast enough to see it running,” Dan Neuman said.

Dan, or as his friends call him, “Spiffy,” Neuman has been collecting ceiling fans since he was in fourth grade.

“You still find them for free on the sidewalks, free on Craigslist,” Neuman said.

Dan Neuman maintains a collection of hundreds of ceiling fans.(WMTV-TV/Erin Sullivan)

Today, he has around 500 vintage ceiling fans in his collection, though he constantly buys, sells and trades online. Most fans are decades old, dating back to his childhood in the 1970s and 1980s.

“It’s a pretty interesting niche, so if I don’t buy it, there’s a good chance it’ll end up on the sidewalk or in the junkyard or something,” Neuman explained.

Hanging in his house is a rotation of his favorites, but he also rents a large barn with another avid fan to store the rest of his collection.

Dan
Dan “Spiffy” Neuman keeps much of his ceiling fan collection in a barn, which he shares with another avid fan.(Erin Sullivan)

“Now I finally have the opportunity to step up and say ok, this is what I really want to keep, and this is what someone else might want,” Neuman said.

For Neuman, it’s more than a hobby, it’s a way to connect with his past. “Seeing a fan who was special to me as a kid brings me back to that happy place of my childhood,” Neuman said.

Dan
Dan “Spiffy” Neuman works on a ceiling fan as a teenager. His interest in fans started at a young age.(Lavonne Berkvam)

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 was trying to beg on my birthday at a restaurant that had fans. Menards, I think, was my favourite. Menards had a great display of fans when I was child,” Neuman said.

His very first purchase was at a garage sale in 4th grade. “It was the same, like the same model, that was set up at Dorn Hardware on Verona Road, which was my dad’s favorite store,” Neuman explained.

In middle school and high school, Dan
In middle school and high school, Dan “Spiffy” Neuman drew sketches of his favorite ceiling fans he saw around town, hoping to own them one day.(Dan “Spiffy” Neumann)

In middle school and high school, he even drew sketches of his favorites he saw around town, hoping to own them one day. Today, those dreams have come full circle.

“You know there are parts of your childhood that you think you’ll never see again and being able to reconstruct them for me is one of the important pieces,” Neuman said.

Now he connects with other collectors on social mediahosts a podcastand has a Youtube channel all dedicated to their profession.

“If you go to the internet, there are websites and there are Facebook groups and there are entire communities based around people collecting fans,” Neuman explained.

Dan’s other passion is music. He plays the guitar and the organ and works in a church where he is minister of music. He is also a proud father and husband.

Dan
Dan “Spiffy” Neuman displays some of his collection of ceiling fans in a barn he rents near his Madison home.(Erin Sullivan)

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