eye-opening curiosities
February 6, 2008 8:07 AM   Subscribe

"Of all the various types of optical objects known to exist, far and away the most magnificent and attractive are the optical fans." These sly spying devices, now rare collector curiosities, were once a more discreet and chic alternative for spying on your neighbors in fashionable gatherings than opera glasses, spyglasses, or jealousy glasses.
posted by madamjujujive (19 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
These designs seem a lot less discreet than I was expecting. I wonder if there's some art to use them inconspicuously.
posted by crapmatic at 8:20 AM on February 6, 2008


I find that beer goggles perform admirably as jealousy glasses when I am out and about with the lady.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:24 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's just totally rad. I had no idea. I feel so violated.
posted by OmieWise at 8:25 AM on February 6, 2008


Soon, you won't need a deft movement of your fancy folding fan to ogle your friends' spouses.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 AM on February 6, 2008


Great stuff... sure I've seen optical fans in some museum. The CCTV of their day, well sort of.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:43 AM on February 6, 2008


crapmatic, before the little optical devices, some fans had thin mica inlays, and women could cover their faces while peering out. See the mica fan in this collection - also the mask fan. But I think that women did indeed know how to wield them to good effect, an art and a language that is totally lost on us today.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:58 AM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


If people were at the theater to spy on each other, why did they even have a show or concert? Why not just have a party, so you can spy more openly?
posted by DU at 9:13 AM on February 6, 2008


an art and a language that is totally lost on us today

Well, I don't know about that...why only last night I saw several ladies at the Opera use their fans in a delightful fashion, and to great effect.

Of course, this was before the Marquise de Merteuil made her appearance and was- oh, it is almost too delicious- boo'd (yes, boo'd I tell you) by many in attendance.

Surely by now you have heard of the letters belonging to a certain Vicomte that have been circulated, and the revelations therein pertaining to the sad fate of the Presidente de Tourvel.

Oh, you have been away from society for far too long.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Valmont? Is that you?

Oh, and great post. Once again, MeFi teaches me things I did not know.
posted by languagehat at 9:33 AM on February 6, 2008



The deception was in place and nearly perfect until the woman instinctively swatted a fly that had landed on Lord Garrimont's head.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:51 AM on February 6, 2008


I've always wanted to be one of those delicate ladies with a fan.
posted by sperose at 9:56 AM on February 6, 2008


Wait, the fan one says that folding fans spread from Europe to Asia? I find that specious.
posted by klangklangston at 10:47 AM on February 6, 2008


I loved making periscopes as a youth. How I'd relish such a fine jealousy glass. Sneakery and voyeurism - It's the way of the world. Quite beyond my control.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:09 PM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've always wanted to be one of those delicate ladies with a fan.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:43 PM on February 6, 2008


If people were at the theater to spy on each other, why did they even have a show or concert? Why not just have a party, so you can spy more openly?

Because parties aren't normally arranged in venues specifically designed such that almost everybody has a direct line of sight to everybody else, with music & movement functioning as a pretext for attendance, and in which those on upper levels are uniquely positioned to spy down the tops of the ladies below.

That is, unless for your party you hire out one of your town's larger nightclubs.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:48 PM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


also, Ambrosia Voyeur: eponysomething.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:49 PM on February 6, 2008


Public outcry against blatant voyeurism with spyglasses
What?
Fascinating. L. B. Jefferies should have had one of these. Puppies are where it's at nowadays.
posted by tellurian at 4:26 PM on February 6, 2008


Excellent post, MJJJ! Thanks!
posted by Lynsey at 8:35 PM on February 6, 2008


Hm, i never thought what such things have so great spread in the world. We all need to adapt to this :)
posted by Sashaay at 12:14 AM on February 8, 2008


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