European and American hand fans
January 14, 2009 11:10 PM   Subscribe

Here is another hand fan collection photograph library. [sorry about the overabundance of ads]
posted by netbros at 11:35 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Great post, nickyskye. The fan language links reminded me of the acoustic fan (scroll down), a nineteenth century hearing aid that the user held in one hand while biting down on the fan's top.
posted by maryh at 12:19 AM on January 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

a fun, related previous post: optical fans.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:56 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

If more the more subtle language fails, just beat 'em over the head with it.
posted by lekvar at 1:38 AM on January 15, 2009

Is there anything they can't do? They are also used to cool rice when making sushi! I have one and use it for that purpose only.
posted by rainy at 1:39 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cool stuff! Great post, nickyskye!

I want to know more! Alright guys, fan out and find some more good links.
posted by redteam at 2:28 AM on January 15, 2009

Nowadays people communicate furtively with text messages but that just takes all the fan out of sneaking around.
posted by redteam at 2:29 AM on January 15, 2009

People also collect these fans, although the secret language is a little more cumbersome.
posted by nax at 3:29 AM on January 15, 2009

Changes the meaning of fan sites.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:52 AM on January 15, 2009

I've always wanted to have a fan to flirt with ever since my mother made me take an etiquette class when I was in 2nd grade and we learned the basics of using them.
posted by sperose at 5:06 AM on January 15, 2009

If more the more subtle language fails, just beat 'em over the head with it.

Samurai weren't the only ones to use the fan as a weapon. Here are Chinese Wushu and a Persian Nabard examples of fighting fan martial art forms.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:23 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I was a little heathen dirt child in extremely rural Alabama a group of little old ladies in my father's church took it upon themselves to educate me to be a gentleman. My brother, they concluded, was too old and soiled, but I would do fine.

Every Sunday after church, I would clambor into the massive land yaght of an aging cotton heiress together with other women who were likewise characters from a Tennessee Williams play and we'd roll over to the designated anti-bellum for that week's lesson. I learned how to sit up properly. They taught me to gracefully unbutton the middle button of my 3 button suit coat before I sat and how to, in reverse rebutton it as I rose. I learned how to present a dance card and how to take a ladies hand to help her up and down the stairs. I learned all the place settings and how and when to use them. We drank tea by the gallon with our pinkies sticking out, slightly, but not excessively. In the Summers I learned French, but not that horrid Parisian slur they taught me down at the White Flight private school, oh, no! I had to learn proper, courtesean French, supplemented with, I shit you not, lessons on hand cranked Victrola records (one Summer that was not even enough and we switched to Provincal, which was actually better).

One Sunday we headed to, oh, let's say Madame Bouchelle's home, where we sat, sweltering on the horsehair couches sipping our tea and nibbling just the corners of tiny crustless sandwhiches, when the ladies suddenly came out with fans. Each had her own silky, frilled little fan stuffed into her pocket book. "Today," one of them announced, lets say it was Kitty, or maybe Bunny, "we will learn fan talk." Now, I was just a boy, but I suppose I had begun to notice that girls were a little different and perhaps in a good way, but these were not exactly the girls in my class, no, these were octogenarian widows who hadn't seen the inside of a school since they graduated from Ms. Anabelle's Finishing School back in the McKinley administration. These lessons simply did not hit home. I can't tell you if an open fan held in the left hand means "ravish me" or "fuck off" it was all a blur of old ladies blushing and flirting and me wanting to get out of there, out of my shoes, and into the creek with my dog.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:40 AM on January 15, 2009 [15 favorites]

Now this, nickysyke, this is a good post. Some of those fans are exquisite. I have wondered before why in our hyper-fashion-accessory society that burns through trends that fans have not made a big resurgence. They can be so stylish, and they are fun. I guess people can't get beyond the powdered wig view of them. Although, I do admit that in the Morbid Outlook, I was surprised at the thought of Goth culture and fans. But I guess it makes sense.
posted by dios at 6:33 AM on January 15, 2009

When I was young I collected souvenier fans. I thought they were pretty and interesting and as a bonus could fan you cool while sitting in a hot car in traffic. Of course most of them were plastic and had nasty souvenier trap site pictures on them, but I was a kid. And some really were pretty.

I've lost most of them, the really tacky plasticky ones. But I have a few pretty cloth ones still, and a couple of paper ones.

I should start carrying them around and using them. But not right now. Its too cold for a fan right now.
posted by sandraregina at 7:38 AM on January 15, 2009

I am familiar with only the simplest bits of the secret language of fans but I like to carry one with me everyday in the summer. Waiting on a sweltering subway platform is eased considerably by the gentle waving of a fan. I carry a handkerchief too, to wipe my dewy brow. I always see other people eyeing me surreptiously with what I like to think is envy but is more likely amusement.
posted by nikitabot at 7:48 AM on January 15, 2009

Fans really need to make a comeback. A lady is never more elegant than when slowly fanning herself or snapping a fan shut as punctuation.

Atrocity Fans

The language of fans was related to the language of flowers in sending dah skret messages.

"That fool! I sent him an array of York and Lancaster Roses! Why does he still think I like him? I'll show him! I present my Nosegay UPSIDE DOWN! ha ha!"
posted by The Whelk at 9:05 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Keen! As an odd tangent, the language of handkerchiefs (in the gay community), and (possible) meanings for handkerchiefs in dreams.

I thought there was more "kerchief language," but finding it via google is a bit tricky. I think, like fans, kerchief symbolism is mostly an antiquity.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:14 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pollomacho, a fascinating, marvelous comment, flagged as such. Boy, you had a Truman Capote childhood. Do you have a blog with photos of those elderly ladies and you as a child-heathen? Is there a movie out about your life I haven't seen yet? Thanks for adorning my thread with such charm. *flicks and flutters

filthy light thief, re the language of handkerchiefs. Just when I think I'm a grown-up and pretty blasé, there's always some info that makes me go yikes.
posted by nickyskye at 9:46 AM on January 15, 2009

A year or 3 ago, a friend of mine laughed at the handkerchief choice of a rockabilly kid, saying that he should be careful with that color or position. My friend wouldn't elaborate, and I didn't know the phrasing of kerchief language until I found that first link today. Anyway, I'm glad to pass my knowledge of the less mundane aspects of the world along.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:02 PM on January 15, 2009

...and then there is Fannie May
posted by Postroad at 1:59 PM on January 15, 2009

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