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Fans

Page history last edited by Dan 6 years, 7 months ago

 

The Fan

 

 

A Reclining Lady with a Fan, by Eleuterio Pagliani, 1876

 

 

Introduction 

 

The fan can be traced back four thousand years to Egypt where it was used for religious ceremonies. It is in the eighteenth century however that the humble fan takes on a multitude of different functions. The fan in the eighteenth century found utility far beyond the cooling one's face. As an item of fashion, commemoration, memory aid, political and romantic weaponry, communication, the hand fan was understandably ubiquitous in almost all areas of eighteenth century life. 

 

Cleone Knox in May 1764 records a passage in her diary where she prepares for a dinner party which highlighting the capabilities the eighteenth century bestowed upon the fan:

 

"My sister, examining me, was highly satisfied with my appearance, only admonishing me to use my fan gracefully, for she said, 'there is a whole language in the fan. With it the woman of fashion can express disdain, love, indifference, encouragement and so on'. To tell the truth I had never thought of all this before, having found my eyes sufficient up to now to convey any message I wished to the other sex". 

 

The fan market thrived in the eighteenth century. fans ranged from cheap printed souvenirs bought for a few pence when going to the theatre, to beautiful painted examples costing hundreds of pounds. 

 

 

OED definition:

 

3. An instrument for agitating the air, to cool the face, etc. with an artificial breeze.

Thesaurus » 

 a. A fan to be held in the hand.A common kind, and the one always referred to in transferred senses relating to shape, is constructed so as to admit of being folded up in small compass, its form when unfolded being that of a sector of a circle.

 

1726   Swift Gulliver I. ii. v. 90   The Ladies gave me a Gale with their Fans.

1772   J. Adams tr. A. de Ulloa Voy. S. Amer. (ed. 3) I. 32   Fans..made of a very thin kind of palm in the form of a crescent, having a stick of the same 

 

 

 

Fan materials during the eighteenth century 

 

Fans in the 18th century were made from a wide variety of materials depending on their style and purpose. During the 18th century fans were technically a fashion accessory and so were made from the fashionable materials of the time.

 

Sticks and Handles

Sticks and handles could be made of gold, tortoise shell, ivory, mother-of-pearl, horn, or wood. They were often highly decorated. Most sticks and handles were not only made of the previously listed materials, but were inlaid with others. For example, a mother-of-pearl fan could be inlaid with gold. Other sticks were plain, particularly the cheaper, 'topical' fans. 

 

Mounts

Previous to 1780, mounts were typically made of vellum or paper. Some, more valuable fans were decorated with materials used for the sticks such as mother-of-pearl Other decorations included feathers, butterfly wings, silk, gold, and sequins. Although not as common, the 18th century also saw lace fans.

 

 

Fan popularity 

 

From 1720 London printers began to produce cheaper fans to compete with the French and Chinese imports and their wares were regulated by act of parliament 1735.

 

A writer in the Westminster Journal for February 23rd 1751 proposed a tax upon plain and printed fan mounts...

 

"A sixpenny stamp to be affixed in the midst of a plain or printed paper fan mount, and a shilling stamp on a leather one. This may produce a revenue of ten, twenty, or thirty thousand pounds per annum, encourage a very ingenious branch of business, and only hurt half-a-dozen paultry plate printers, who are enriching themselves and starving of hundreds". The proposal highlights the popularity of the fan. The speculative taxation of £30,000 per annum, from only a "half-a-dozen paultry plate printers" shows the high demand for the product around the middle of the century.  

 

 

The Google Ngram viewer allows the printed frequency of a word to be tracked. Here we can see that the printed usage of the phrase 'her fan' begins to steadily increase throughout the eighteenth century, indicating that the fan's popularity as a common object increased during the century. 

 

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Fans had entire shops dedicated to them. If you were looking to purchase a fan in the early eighteenth century, the Strand was the place to go. There was William Goupy's 'Fann' on Surrey street, 'The Golden Fan' owned by Joseph Jackson near Cecil Street  or William West owner of the 'Fan and Gown'. 

Fan making was a profitable business as Avril Hart explains in her book 'Fans', discussing the Clarke family of fan makers: 

 

"Although the only surviving fans associated with them are printed fans, their career illustrates the relative wealth and success achievable by the leading fan makers. They were initially based in Ludgate hill, from where in 1756 Robert Clarke joined the Worshipful company of fan makers. Robert and John Clarke, 'Fan and Hat Maker', are then recorded with a shop at 87 Bishopsgate in 1771, moving to 26 Strand in about 1777. By 1791, Robert Clarke is working alone again, his goods are insured for a considerable sum £800 - and he is able to name royalty amongst his clients. The label on a Robert Clarke fan box proudly proclaims the patronage of their Royal Highness the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester."

 

 

Fans and fashion

 

Unfurling your fan in a stuffy eighteenth century drawing room meant more than guiding a welcome breeze to your face. The fan would have been visible to everybody of quality in the room you were using it and so needed to become an extension of the image you wished to perpetuate in company. 

 

During the Eighteenth century fans were utilised for far more than simply cooling one's face. They were carried as fashion accessories, some boasting moral messages such as this image of the compass...

 

 

<br/><a href="http://oi60.tinypic.com/2dannd0.jpg" target="_blank">View Raw Image</a>

(Hand screen or fan, "Keep within compass". Painted line engraving on paper backed with painted silk, England 1785-1795. From 'Eighteenth Century Clothing' at Williamsburg by Linda Baumgarten) 

 

... which reminded it's owner to 'keep within compass', a moralistic message that acted as a reminder of virtue. Some fans however carried more frivolous images such as instructions for card games.

 

Pamela is not complete in her wedding dress until she has her fan "taking my fan, I , like a little proud hussy looked in the glass, and thought myself a gentle woman once more" 

 

"In many eighteenth century portraits they let the fan hang between their fingers, closed, an indication of the importance of attractive guardsticks. In a portrait of Mrs Mary Martin by Allan Ramsay, the sitter takes her fan out of the fur muff on her lap, which may indicate where fans were stored when not in use." This particular portrait can be seen below: 

 

 

Mary Martain holds the fan delicately, letting it rest in her palm demonstrating the subtlety and nuance of a fan as an accessory.

 

There are few paintings that portray a woman holding a fan open. Johan Zoffany's portrait of Queen Charlotte, wife of George III is a notable exception. There may be a few reasons for the lack of open fans in eighteenth century portraits. Portraits often showed their subjects at ease, a closed fan is a less dynamic object and so helps to give a sense of tranquility to the portrait. An open fan would require a more meaningful composition, with the messages that fans were attributed with may have distracted from the focus of the subject themselves. Although it may have simply been that the design on aristocratic fans were often very detailed and to recreate the image in miniature in a portrait would have caused problems. 

 

Interestingly owning a fan was not the only means of exhibiting status that could be offered through fans. The 'Bath Medley' fan, created by Jonathan Pinchbeck in 1735 showed that a person's appearance in print on a fan design could also be a mark of status:

 

 

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Classified ads 
London Evening Post (London, England), January 4, 1735 - January 7, 1735; Issue 1113

 

Fans and satire  

 

The eighteenth century was a thriving era for satire. Two of the topics often made risible was coquettishness and courtship. There can be found many examples where the fan is used as a symbol for these two topics. 

 

Where there is love in literature, death is often never very far behind. The lexicon of love is littered with language of death in the eighteenth century. It is a century where literary figures tell us they will die if they cannot be unified with their love, and the heart being the kingdom where love and mortality reign, it is no surprise that the fan found its place in satire as the woman's weapon of love. 

 

Perhaps the most famous example of the fan as the woman's weapon of love can be found in 'The Spectator - volumes 1-2, wednesday, June 27, 1711'. 

The writer opens by saying that " I do not know wether to call the following letter a satyr upon coquets, or a representation of their several fantastical accomplishments", both titles would fit because the ensuing letter expound upon the writers idea to contrive a school that directs women in the art of wielding their fan. 

 

At the core of the satire is the line "Women are armed with Fans as Men with Swords, and sometimes do more Execution with them". The military instructions that are given as instructions to the ladies of this invented academy are as follows:

 

Handle your Fans,

Unfurl your Fans,

Discharge your Fans,

Ground your Fans,

Recover your Fans,

Flutter your Fans.

 

With these instructions the fan may become a weapon in the war of love, to give the woman full control of her arsenal, and instilling the fan with  "all the Graces that can possibly enter into that little modish Machine". The humour of the piece comes from the juxtaposition of subtle flirtation and sudden violent action. Steps two and three move from "several little flirts and vibrations" to "One general crack that may be heard at a considerable distance when the wind is fair".

 

The article locates fan control in the gamut of accessories which are stereotypically associated with a woman's equipage: "... quit her fan gracefully when she throws it aside in order to take up a pack of cards, adjust a curl of hair, replace a falling pin, or apply herself to any other matter of importance", and seemingly extends the satyr out to those items too. Perhaps the reason why the fan is chosen out of these array of objects is because it is easily anthropomorphised into an object that displays clear emotion, almost of itself as much as an extension of the barer. When we read "I have seen a fan so very angry, that it would have been dangerous for the absent lover who provoked it to have come within the wind of it; and at other times so languishing, that I have been glad for the lady's sake the lover was at a sufficient distance from it" it seems that the fan is a register for emotion in itself. 

 

There are three examples in John Winstanley's volume 'Poems written occasionally' (1742), of poems that focus on the nature of the fan as a weapon of love. 

"On a young lady's fan" (shown below) is a brief example of the conceit...

 

 

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...however is longer poem "Upon the Tearing of a Certain Lady of qualities Fan, in the Publick Room at Bath" satirically shows the power balance between man and woman in the war of love. The poem begins: 

 

"In love's soft reign, the sceptre is the fan,

Women the sovereign and the subject, man

Her frowns and smiles its different motions show

His hopes and fears from its impressions flow"

 

The poem secures the fan not just as the weapon to deal the death blow, but also as the tool of communication. As much as the fan is an object for the woman to exact her emotions, it is a medium for the male lover to read the heart of his beloved. Simultaneously it is a weapon and a script. When in the poem the fan is rent apart we then see the fan as a shield. Without her fan Winstanley describes the woman as "naked" and "defenceless" and inevitably "to victorious man must fall prey". This must not be taken seriously, the point of the satire is the hyperbolic powers of the fan and the humour emerges from the fact that a fan has no such powers. The kernel of truth that me way garner from this poem however is that fans could be used for communication in an indirect manner which may have provoked powerful emotions with very subtle gestures. 

 

Another poem simply entitled 'The Fan' (1749), charts "the loss of a lady's fan, at a late assembly", the premise which accompanies the poem can be read below:

 

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http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=KXzhAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA155&lpg=PA155&dq=she+lov%27d+the+toy,+because+she+lov%27d+the+tale&source=bl&ots=AIEWM2GT2Q&sig=emx9zKsZB-gn_YZNKrVr4_6JnMs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DFsXU4m-HePiywO-ioHIBA&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=she%20lov'd%20the%20toy%2C%20because%20she%20lov'd%20the%20tale&f=false

 

This poem is a self titled "heroi-comical poem in three cantos" and borrows the same 'storm in a tea cup' style humour as 'The Rape of The Lock'. In canto I the familiar trope of the fan as a weapon is adopted:

"The crack you'd swear, at least a mile was heard

A file entire of beaux, is whispered round

oft fell a victim to the mortal sound 

as heroes swords, so ladies wear a fan..."

 

The poem goes on however to tie itself closely to Rape of the Lock in particular as it begins to track the man's pursuit of Lydia. The poem is clearly conscious of the similarities it shares with The Rape of the Lock as we might infer from the line "Proud of the task he enters Lydias room, perched on a curl, and meditated her doom". Pope satirizes man’s nature that is always weak at beauty. Men sacrifice everything at the altar of beauty and even the most intelligent man behaves foolishly when he fall a victim to beauty. 'The Fan' similarly derives its humour from this same source as well as depicting the absurdities and the frivolities of the fashionable circle of the 18th century England. The world of Belinda – the world of fashion is a trivial world. The whole life of Belinda is confined to sleeping, make-up, enjoyment and alluring the lords. There are no transcendental elements in her life. This life is marked by ill-nature, affection, mischievousness, coquetry, yielding and submissive nature, fierce and unruly nature, infidelity, cheapness, meanness, trivialities and frivolities . Belinda represents all the fashion struck women, busy in such stupidities. Although 'The Fan' operates similarly, playing on the trivialities associated with the love game, it differs somewhat in the fact that the design of the fan is sincerely praised. The opening describes in detail the images from the pages of Tom Jones printed upon the fan. The item that is taken is an item of emotional value rather than the more frivolous lock of hair that is its counterpart. 

 

There is, to my mind, something a little insidious occurs in the humour of these mock heroic poems. We are invited to indulge in the conceit that when a fan is compared to a weapon, it is funny because paper is the antithesis to steel and with a frail arc of paper in hand: "Virgins dread the monster man no more". Perhaps, this conceit actually highlights the lack of protection women had from men's desires. 

 

The fan continues to be used in courtship satire, culminating in "Lady Windomeres Fan' by Oscar Wilde

 

 

Fans and emotion

 

The fan can be seen as both an extension of a lady's mood, and also as a screen to hide embarrassment, dismay or any other undesirable emotion. 

This excerpt from 'The Fan' (1713) by John Gay demonstrates how the fan can be an incredibly expressive tool:

 

"So shall each passion by the fan be seen
From noisie anger to the sullen spleen"

 

Similarly 'The Art of Dancing' by Soame Jenyns highlights teh complexities in the various emotions that a fan can portray:

 

 

"What daring bard shall e’er attempt to tell
The powers that in this little engine dwell?
What verse can e’er explain its various parts
Its numerous uses, motions, charms and arts?
Its shake triumphant, its virtuous clap,
Its angry flutter, and its wanton tap."

 

These poems demonstrate the expressive nature of the fan, Madame de Genlis, quoted in Susan Hiner's book Accessories to Modernity: 'Fashion and the Feminine in Nineteenth-Century France' (p156), looks back on the eighteenth century and explains how teh fan could have been used to hide emotion rather than express it. 

 

 

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Here Madame de Genlis depicts the fan as a recourse to modesty, and entangles the symbol of the fan with female virtue and modesty. De Genlis is not alone in this assumption, many of the female characters mentioned to be in the possession of a fan throughout eighteenth century do so as a recourse to modesty: 

 

In Samuel Richardson's 'Pamela':

 

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In Samuel Richardson's 'Clarissa':

 

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And in Henry Fielding's 'Tom Jones':

 

 

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Although there were times that a man could carry a fan, such as in Beaux Nash's bath house, the fan was, for the majority, considered an effeminate item, associated with modesty. 

 

 

The fan as merchandise 

 

With the first publication of Samuel Richardson's 'Pamela', the opportunistic consumer culture of the eighteenth century were quick to produce merchandise surrounding it. 'The Pamela fan' was an example of this. Similar to the various other exhibitions derived from Pamela, the Pamela fan re-tells the narrative parts one and two in a visual tableaux. 


As we can see Martha Gamble advertising here in the 'Daily Advertiser' 28th April 1741: 

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Unfortunately none of these fans are currently known to exist and subsequently no images either. There is however a letter that exists, from Elizabeth Postlethwaite to her married sister Barbara Kerrich (13th September 1741):

 

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From 'Your Affectionate and Loving Sister': The Correspondance of Barbara Kerrich to her sister Elizabeth Postlethwaite' By Barbara Kerrich and Elizabeth Postlethwaite

 

From the information in this letter we can suppose that one of the tableauxs featured on 'The Pamela Fan' may have resembled the painting by Joseph Highmore engraved here by Antoine Benoist in 1745 in which during here custody with Mrs Jewkes, Pamela seizes an opportunity to begin correspondence with Mr Williams to engineer her escape:

 

 

  

 

There is something to be said for the materiality of the fan as a signifying object similar to the novel. In her book 'The Works of Samuel Richardson' Stephanie Fysh explains that in France it was said "To be in style one must own a copy of Pamela", the fan as a small and portable object was a good way to endorse the novel and purvey your style. We have already seen that topical fans could be used to pledge allegiance to a political party. If the fan could be used as a badge of allegiance then the Pamela fan may well have been used to align oneself of the virtues and morals within the novel. By carrying a Pamela fan to a party, you advertise that you encapsulate the message of the book. 

 

By the middle of the eighteenth century the Fan "Functioned almost like a newspaper" (the works of samuel richardson, Stephanie Fysh). The difference however was the outward nature of the fan. Instead of imparting internal information to the holder, it acted to project information outward to the public. The holder of the fan became implicated with the fan's subject. 

 

" The women who carried the Pamela fans were making an active claim to a personal association with the Pamela narrative, an association much more personal than if they had visited the waxwork exhibitions or dined in a Vauxhall Gardens supper box. A fan is after all a very personal object- carried on and close to the person used for personal comfort as well as personal expression and intimate communication. The users of the Pamela fan, whether or not it was their intention to do so, were making a visible display of their own virtue... In the fans Pamela becomes a means to make a statement, it's narrative packaged into a single object."

Stephanie Fysh 

 

Interestingly, if the printed fan is to be taken as an encapsulating of the novel in the form of an object, then the use of the Pamela Fan will inevitably feed back into the understood meaning of the novel because such a personal ownership of such an object means that it will house projections of personal meaning . Going to see the Pamela wax works at the Vauxhall garden's for example is a relatively passive experience, to be commented on from a distance. Owning a Pamela Fan however would become a personal yardstick to determine whether the holder lived up to the virtues of Pamela and would align the owner more closely to the literary character. A relationship like this would colour and perhaps offer a greater appreciation for the character than any of the other merchandise surrounding Pamela at the time. 

 

In his book 'Pamela in the Market Place: Literary Controversy and Print culture' Thomas Keymer points out that the Pamela Fan may not have been simply held up as an object that encapsulated and promoted the virtue of the novel. He cites that such printed fans may not have been met with clerical approval as the magazine poem 'On the New Fashioned Fans with Mottos' (1740) might suggest:

 

"New schemes of dress, intrigue and play,

want new expressions everyday:

and doubly blessed! must be the mortal man

who may converse with Sylvia and her FAN"

 

Keymer reminds us here that "the rather blatant innuendo is a reminder that fans were not necessarily a badge of exemplary domestic virtue... With its images of a highly charged seduction narrative, and is declaration of its barer as a paid up fashion victim, the fan may well have leant itself to more coquettish uses".  Perhaps the fan may have been used for advertising the owner's willingness to partake in similar adventures to the heroine, rather than advocating her exemplary virtue. Because the fan is no longer present, we cannot study it thoroughly and so any comment on its desired effect can never stray far from speculation. What we can assert, is that due to the fan being a highly visible object in social occasions, there would have been a desired or strategic effect implemented by the barer. 

 

In terms of merchandise it is important to note that the fan was designed to compliment, not replace the novel. Indeed later in Barbara Kerrich's letter to her sister she tells that she later requests and receives the novel as a present from her father. The fan was designed to enhance what John Winstanley described in his poem 'The Fan' as the 'modish airs' that a person could adorn in respect to the popularity of the novel. 

 

 

Commemorative and Political Fans  

 

 

The rise of the printed fan in the eighteenth century allowed the recording and appropriation of historical events into a personal, usually female, space. These fans depicted everything from royal marriages to celebrations of naval heroes. 

 

Rhead Wolliscroft explains in his book 'The History of the Fan' that: "The topical fan, having reference to royal and distinguished personages, or recording public events, was entirely the product of the eighteenth century. It was broadly speaking born with the century and died with it. During this period, the engraved fan became a purveyor of history, a kind of running commentary on the affairs of the hour. It was the fan of the people - the poor relation of the more aristocratic painted fan."

 

The commemorative fan allowed women to comment on or endorse domestic and international achievement or bereavement. The fan became a way for women to show their allegiance publicly, and as Tiffany Potter writes in 'Women, popular culture and the Eighteenth Century' "politicise their personal space".  One interesting example of this is the Jacobite fan. There is a clear awareness on the part of the fan makers that Jacobite support or derision in the wrong company maybe undesirable. The consequence of this was the production of double sided fans. The inside, or inward facing side would display Jacobite designs and the outward facing side would display something less controversial such as a floral design. This allowed women to outwardly show or hide their allegiance, from the perhaps unsympathetic company they found themselves in. 

 

Not all fans however had such obvious and pointed displays of allegiance. Tiffany Potter cites the fan representing Admiral Vernon's capture of Porto Bello in 1739, ostensibly marks of the centuries interest in hero worship of military figures, were on one level support for a popular naval hero. "Their meaning however became complicated when Vernon became the figure head for opposition to Robert Walpole's foreign policy in 1740. Thus the celebrations that sprang up across the country for Vernon's birthday in November took a deeper significance and the women who disported Vernon fans on the streets or at evening entertainments, may well have done so with several purposes in mind" ('Women, Popular Culture and the Eighteenth Century). If the fan was a symbol for an event or person, then as the situation surrounding them changed, so too did the fan as an object of that significance. 

 

One good example of a surviving political fan is the Jeu de Piquet...

 

''Jeu de Piquet' - Hand coloured etching on vellum. English. 1734. 

 

The design is a comment on the Polish war of succession (1733-1738). the seven participating countries are embroiled in a game of 'piquet' which becomes an allegory for the war. The french counterpart for example is quoted on the fan as saying "I make the hand and play first", matching the initial political action of real events. Robert Walpole stated clearly that Britain would not become embroiled in the war unless provoked which is translated in the game depicted on the fan as: "I'm preparing though I don't play, but if I am nettled i'll take up the cards". 

 

 

Fans were a popular method for depicting historical events, outside of political situations. Below are some examples. 

 

 

The recovery of George III commemorative fan (1789):

 

 

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The coronation of George II  commemorative fan (c.1727). The day of his recovery was almost marked with fireworks which prompted one observer to comment: "it was the most brilliant, as well as the most universal exhibition of national loyalty and joy ever witnessed in England". The fan carries the message "Health is restored to one, and happiness to millions" - the fan captures this atmosphere of jubilation.

 

 

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The scene on the fan leaf depicts the coronation banquet of George II and Queen Caroline at Westminster Hall. 

 

 

 

The death of Frederick, prince of Wales commemorative fan (1751):

 

 

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This mourning fan, as was typical of mourning fans marking the death of royals shows Britannia weeping. it is painted in black gouache on white vellum ground. this fan in particular was charged with political significance as Avril Hart explains:

"It was common knowledge that King George II loathed Frederick... however recognising the importance of developing a positive image for the royal family, he was careful to appear at public occasions with his children and family". 

This fan then is not simply a mourning fan to commemorate a royal death, but a planned strategy to sure up the cohesion of the monarchy. 

 

 

Fan makers acted fast when social, political or royal occasions presented themselves. Jonathan Pinchbeck for example, a prolific fan maker at the Fan and Crown based in The Strand can be seen to advertise his 'Nassau Fan' before the marriage of the Prince of Orange:

 

 

 

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Classified ads 
Fog's Weekly Journal (London, England), Saturday, July 14, 1733; Issue 245

 

The fan can be seen to be an item of current and topical importance in the eighteenth century. This can be testified by the N.B of Pinchbeck's Daily Post article five days later:

 

 

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Classified ads 
Daily Post (London, England), Thursday, July 19, 1733; Issue 4319

 

"N.B. Beware of counterfeits, the true Original Nassau fans having the name (PINCHBECK) prefix'd to the mount." Showed that others were designing and producing commemorative fans in time to capture the hype surrounding the union of the two royals. 

 

Here we can see Pinchbeck's reaction to a 'spurious' re-make of his fan: 

 

 

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Classified ads 
Country Journal or The Craftsman (London, England), Saturday, August 18, 1733; Issue 372

 

 

One of the more politically motivated fan designs includes the 'Excise fan', or as Martha Gamble describes it in 'Fog's weekly journal, 2nd June 1733, the 'Famous Excise Fan'. The fan is depicted here in 'Fog's Weekly Journal':

 

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Classified ads 
Fog's Weekly Journal (London, England), Saturday, June 2, 1733; Issue 239.

Category: Classified ads

 

It is interesting that the article advertises the fan to all "Loyal ladies", demonstrating the intention that ladies may use the fan as a badge of political allegiance. The article goes on to describe the fan as "The political monster", showing its efficacy as a tool of political utility. Most interestingly however is the couplet: "Tis in the power of every British fair, to turn excises of all kinds to air". In no uncertain terms the mechanism of the fan is used as a metaphor for political action. It is not simply the image that the fan displays, but the object itself that has become a political symbol and through its use, a statement towards a political rebuff. 

 

 

 

Fanology

 

During the eighteenth century we have already seen fans used as fashion accessories, commemorative pieces, political and love weapons. There are also other types of fans which have a variety of practical uses during the period.

 

Fans could also be utilised as a method of communication. In the late 1790s Charles Francis Badini and Robert Rowe designed communication hand fans. Badini's was“Fanology or Ladies Conversation Fan” and Rowe's was “The Ladies Telegraph, for Corresponding at a Distance”. Instructions were written on the fans informing ladies how to use them. This branch of fan study comes late into the century and it should not be taken that such a developed communication system was employed by the theatre goers of the eighteenth century. Rather, the ingenuity of these specific fan makers should be taken as an indicator that fans were used for communication in combination with body language in subtler forms throughout the century. 

 

This poem printed by William Cock accompanied the Conversation Fan and highlights the nature of its intended use:

 

"The telegraph of Cupid in this Fan

Though you should find, suspect no wrong 

Tis but a simple and diverting plan

For ladies to chit-chat and hold the tongue"

 

 

 

 

 

“Fanology or Ladies Conversation Fan” designed by Charles Francis Badini, printed in 1797

Source: www.christies.com

 

 

 Here we can see an advertisement by Charles Francis Badini for a 'Conversation Fan', which purportedly allows ladies to hold a conversation with a friend at an opera, play or any public space. 

 

Classified ads 
Morning Chronicle (London, England), Monday, March 20, 1797; Issue 8562.

 

How To Use the "Fanology" Fan

The alphabet was divided into five hand positions (excluding the letter J)  

 

Position 1: Hold fan in left hand and touch the right arm = letters A-E.

Position 2: Hold fan in right hand and touch the left arm = letters F-K.

Position 3: Place the fan against the heart = letters L-P.

Position 4: Raise the fan to mouth = letters Q-U

Position 5: Raise the fan to forehead = letters V-Z

Then you would use the same motions to indicate which number of the letter in each combination. So, if you wanted to spell S.O.S, for S you would place your fan in position 4 then place it in position 3, for O position 3 then position 4 and for S again, position 4 then position 3.

 

Actual recorded usage of the conversation fan by Badini is scarce. The problems of such a complex system are obvious; there are clear dangers of miscommunication in the precision of movements and there is the danger of sending messages unwittingly to the wrong audience member caught in the cross fire. 

 

Robert Rowe's 'Ladies Telegraph' fan seems somewhat simpler, pictured here:

 

 

 

"The Ladies Telegraph, for Corresponding at a Distance" deigned by Robert Rowe, 1798

 

The advertisement for which can be found in the Classified ads of the Morning Post and Gazetteer, (Wednesday, April 25,1798)...

 

 

<br/><a href="http://oi58.tinypic.com/w8t7yv.jpg" target="_blank">View Raw Image</a>    

 

 

... the advertisement shows the stress on the clarity of communication that this improved fan offers, suggesting previous confusion through over complication of the 'Conversation Fan'. 

 

 

De Sausse - visited england in 1920 

The ladies ‘have but little talk and the main conversation is the flutter of the fans.’

 

Bibliography:

 

Introduction:

 

Cleone Knox's Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion in the Year 1764-65

Little of this book is dedicated to fans, this passage however highlights Cleone's coming of age which is the theme of the book

 

Fan Popularity:

 

Westminster Journal for February 23rd 1751 - 'comment on fan mounts' 

 

Avril Hart - Fans (V&A publication) - 1997 - hardback

 

Google N-gram viewer

 

Fans and Fashion:

 

'Eighteenth Century Clothing at Williamsburg' by Linda Baumgarten

 

Classified ads 
London Evening Post (London, England), January 4, 1735 - January 7, 1735; Issue 1113 - the bath medley 

 

Fans and satire:

 

 'The Spectator - volumes 1-2, wednesday, June 27, 1711'. - 'Dear Spectator'

 

'Poems written occasionally' (1742 - John Winstanley - The Fan 

 

Henry Fielding: The Critical Heritage, edited by Thomas Lockwood, Ronald Paulson

 

Fans and Emotion 

 

Susan Hiner's book Accessories to Modernity: 'Fashion and the Feminine in Nineteenth-Century France' (p156)

 

Samuel Richardson - 'Pamela' and also 'Clarissa' Penguin edition 2003

 

Henry Fielding - 'Tom Jones' Penguin edition 2003

 

Fans as merchandise 

 

'On the New Fashioned Fans with Mottos' (1740) - Spectator 

 

The works of Samuel richardson by  Stephanie Fysh

 

'Your Affectionate and Loving Sister': The Correspondence of Barbara Kerrich and her sister" - By Barbara Kerrich and Elizabeth Potlethwaite 

 

Commemorative and political fans 

 

Rhead Wolliscroft - 'The History of the Fan'

 

Tiffany Potter - 'Women, popular culture and the Eighteenth Century'

 

Classified ads 
Fog's Weekly Journal (London, England), Saturday, July 14, 1733; Issue 245

 

Classified ads 
Daily Post (London, England), Thursday, July 19, 1733; Issue 4319

 

Classified ads 
Country Journal or The Craftsman (London, England), Saturday, August 18, 1733; Issue 372
 

 

Classified ads 
Fog's Weekly Journal (London, England), Saturday, July 14, 1733; Issue 245

 

Fanology

 

Classified ads 
Morning Chronicle (London, England), Monday, March 20, 1797; Issue 8562.

 

Ladies telegraph - Morning Post and Gazetteer, (Wednesday, April 25,1798)...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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