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. Finger to the tip of a fan
B. Right hand, right cheek
C. Left hand, left cheek
D. Open fan wide near face
E. Open fan near heart
A. I wish to speak with you.
Jeune élégante a l’éventail by Fernand Toussaint (1873-1956)
Woman with a Fan by Hamilton Hamilton (19th century)
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?
Donna MacMeans’ post “The Secret Language of Fans”
The Mysteries of Love, Courtship, and Marriage (1890) by Henry J. Wehman
Victorians’ Secrets: The Love Letter
Victorians’ Secrets: Tussie-Mussies and Sweetheart Flower Clocks
FUTURE POST: Victorians’ Secrets: Handkerchiefs, Napkins, and Silverware
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