Victorian Carved Ivory Lady's Fan w. Grape
In Victorian times every high society girl or woman was accompanied by a hand fan. It
was not because hand fans were used as cooling instruments, but also as convenient communication devices, mainly
for transmitting more or less furtive love messages. This carved ivory hand fan is an exquisite delight to my collection.
The motif was done in elaborate grapes, leaves, and vines. As in nature, grapevine was dormant and leafless in
winter, but in summer it produced the most beautiful show of abundance and fast growth that often spoke for the
message of prosperity. A wonderfully crafted hand fan reflects social status as well as level of wealth.
This carved ivory fan is in excellent condition with natural patina; it is monogrammed with the initial "M" and
binded by silk. I
have included a summary of the "Language of Victorian Fan" for your interest.
The fan placed near the heart: "You have won my love."
Half-opened fan pressed to the lips: "You
may kiss me."
Hands clasped together holding an open fan: "Forgive me."
Hiding the eyes behind an open fan: "I love you."
Shutting a fully
opened fan slowly: "I promise to marry you."
Drawing the fan across the eyes: "I am sorry."
finger to the tip of the fan: "I wish to speak with you."
Letting the fan rest on the right
Letting the fan rest on the left cheek: "NO."
closing the fan several times: "You are cruel"
Fanning slowly: "I am married."
Quickly: "I am engaged."
Opening a fan wide: "Wait
Twirling the fan in the left hand: "We are being watched."
Twirling the fan in the right hand:
"I love another."
Presenting the fan shut: "Do you love me?"