Articles Of History: Fans

I thought it might be neat to share little know history about items that were so much used in the older days, but not used or useful to us today. Articles that people used often can tell us so much about those people, what they valued and how they lived. So, to start, I thought since it is summer here, that I might shine the spotlight on hand held fans.

Since the introduction of electricity into our lives along with batteries, electric fans and central air and heat, hand held fans have become almost obsolete. However, they have been used for thousands of years as one of the only ways to cool off even if it were just one’s face. Far from being common place, they were often also a sign of a family’s wealth and place in society. It was deemed a young woman’s article and along with her gloves, hat and high-button shoes was one of her most important accessories especially on a hot summer day when she might find herself outside at some time.


Fans were not plain either as we might imagine. They were often carefully designed and decorated with feathers, small painted scenes, ribbons, lace or even jewels. Some fans were purely made to be decorative. As for what they were made from, fans were usually made out of wood, cloth or plant materials. Nicer ones might have been made out of lace, thick paper or ivory. There even evolved a special fan language that was used by courting young men and women as a way to let each other know personal messages without saying them out loud.

I hope you have enjoyed this little snip of history about fans! And of course, stay cool!

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