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Benares House Gallery
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Fan: French Ivory
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Title: Fan: French Ivory
Identifier: 979.6.1229
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1870-1900
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A folding fan with French ivory frame and bamboo supports; the main part of the fan is black cloth painted with white floral decoration. There is a string for a handle and a green bead is on the string. Dimensions are for fan in closed position, when open fan is 31cm in width.

Fans were an essential accessory for women of fashion in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as part of their ensemble as well as for sending romantic messages to potential suitors. Devised in England during the eighteenth century, women could spell out messages letter by letter. By the nineteenth century, a simpler scheme was devised that communicated whole phrases with a single gesture. Examples included: "Do not be prudent", "I love you", or "Follow me". Readerís Digest "How Was it Done? The Story of Human Ingenuity through the Ages" (London: Readerís Digest Association, 2001), 80-81.
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   Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN)
   Virtual Museum of Canada