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Victorian Hand Fans

Thanks to donor generosity, the museum has a nice representation of hand fans that were used by North Country ladies. Unfortunately, we can't identify every fan's donor. Only four of the fans were labeled by donor. Marion and Frank Murray, Edna Ackerman, Mr. and Mrs. James McCormick and Alice Bigelow. Many of the fans belonged to Betsy Hamlin. 


Throughout history, fans have been a practical solution to personal comfort. But they have also served as a simple communication device.

Every society has used a hand fan of some sort. From palm fronds to feathers - from beautifully painted works of art to jewel encrusted, gold plated objects of incredible value. Fans were used in fashion, religion, battle and ceremony. Why there is even a language devoted exclusively to the hand fan! Fans tell the stories and histories of the cultures and individuals who used them. Art, culture, geography and history - all in the palm of your hand.

With handle to lips... - Kiss me

Placing it on left ear... - You've changed

Twirling in left hand... - I'd like to get rid of you

Drawn across forehead... - We are being watched

Drawn across cheek... - I love you

Drawn through hand... - I hate you

Twirl in right hand... - I love another

See more from "A Victorian" website.

Click the images for a closer look.
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