Victorians’ Secrets: Fans

In the 19th century fans were not only a beautiful accessory or a means to cool off. Women often expressed their amorous feelings and arranged clandestine meetings through a series of signals. Can you interpret the following five responses to suitors?

a_fan
A. Finger to the tip of a fan
b_fan
B. Right hand, right cheek
c_fan
C. Left hand, left cheek
d_fan
D. Open fan wide near face
e_fan
E. Open fan near heart

ANSWERS:
A. I wish to speak with you.
Jeune élégante a l’éventail by Fernand Toussaint  (1873-1956)

B.  Yes
Woman with a Fan by Hamilton Hamilton (19th century)

C.  No
At the Ball by Berthe Morisot (1875)

D.  Wait for me or follow me.
The Loge by Mary Cassatt (1880)

E. You have won my love.
At the Theater by Mary Cassatt (1879)

Which signal(s) proved the hardest to decipher?

LINKS:

Donna MacMeans’ post “The Secret Language of Fans”
http://www.donnamacmeans.com/the-secret-language-of-fans/

The Mysteries of Love, Courtship, and Marriage (1890) by Henry J. Wehman
https://archive.org/details/TheMysteryOfLoveCourtshipAndMarriageExplained

RELATED POSTS:

Victorians’ Secrets: The Love Letter
https://jillianlark.com/tag/love-letters/

Victorians’ Secrets: Tussie-Mussies and Sweetheart Flower Clocks
https://jillianlark.com/tag/tussie-mussies/

FUTURE POST: Victorians’ Secrets: Handkerchiefs, Napkins, and Silverware
click here to follow blog

Comments

  1. I think Seattle must have been stealing Denver’s signals in the Super Bowl. Which makes me believe some unintended Victorian suitors might have gotten the wrong idea? But I am still a VIctoria’s Secret fan. Clever.

  2. Fans are still popular today. I bought five when I was in Puerto Vallarta a few years back because they were the perfect solution for my hot flashes. I treated them just like reading glasses . . . had them stashed everywhere. Women experiencing the same menopausal distress marveled at what a great idea it was. I’m sure the demand went up after word got out. I should have bought stock. 🙂 Great post, as always, Jillian. You are such a clever lady!

    • Deb, what a terrific idea! Thanks for the kind comment, but any cleverness on my part is purely coincidental and disappears completely when I’m tired. I once stood at my front door wondering why it wouldn’t open when I pushed the button on my garage door opener.~Jillian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: