Tuesday, October 5, 2010

True Facts Tuesday - The Language of the Fan

During the mid 1800's fans were a common fashion accessory. Beautiful, beaded, flowered, feathered..........but much, much more. Fans were the instrument of a secret language. A woman could use her fan to signal a man, the being message anything from Follow Me to I Hate You. It was like texting for the Victorians! Below are a few examples of the meanings.

Carrying Fan in Right Hand in Front of Face:  Follow Me
Carrying Fan in Left Hand in Front of Face:  Desirous of Acquaintance
Twirling in the Left Hand: We Are Being Watched
Twirling in the Right Hand: I Love Another
Drawing Across the Cheek: I Love You
Presented Shut: Do You Love Me?
Drawing Across the Eyes: I Am Sorry
Letting Rest on Right Cheek: Yes
Letting Rest on Left Cheek: No
                                              Fanning Slowly: I Am Married
                                              Fanning Quickly: I Am Engaged
                                              With Handle to Lips: Kiss Me
These are just a few of meanings I thought were interesting. Can't you just imagine candlelit ballrooms, long silk gowns, stolen moments, stolen kisses. Makes you want to buy a fan and signal your lover doesn't it?

Info from: "Secrets of Life Unveiled" by Daniel R. Shafer (pub. 1877)


  1. Wow, I never knew about a formal fan language. Hope the guys had a class to learn these meanings.

  2. That is so interesting! I love finding out things like this. I loved your analogy - texting for Victorians! I agree with Megan - what if a guy just couldn't keep up with the signals? Could've gotten interesting! LOL

  3. Very interesting indeed, Jenn! There must have been a lot of fan blowing and snapping way back in the days. It makes me wonder how many lovers were 'found out' by their spouses while partaking in a ball. Then again, like Megan and Kellie mentioned, I'm sure the scene could be quite confusing and hysterical at times if the signals were interpreted the wrong way or by the wrong person. It almost sounds like a chaotic and suspenseful episode of 'Maury'. :)