Seventeen uneven lines, alternating between eight and three characters per line. In addition, the last two lines contain the dedication and signature. Wang Wanfang achieved the jinshi or metropolitan degree in 1889. This was the highest honor that an aspiring young Chinese scholar could hope for, and placed him in the elite company of those who held the highest government positions. The characters are written in a bold regular script with the brush likely held at an angle to the paper, giving the strokes a crisp angularity suggesting the European calligraphic pen. Some elements of the characters seem unbalanced, but overall there is a steady rhythm in the progress of the brush. The poem refers to the "nine tripods" and "five jade disks," along with other artifacts that might grace the home of a well to do man. Perhaps all this is in praise of the person to whom the fan is dedicated.
A man sits in his hakama, looking through a turn-of-the-century telescope. This kind of viewing was possible by 1889 at the Astronomical Observatory of Tokyo Imperial University.