The Language of Fans

The Language of Fans, documented by French fanmaker Duvelleroy, has supposedly been around for centuries. The “translation” below comes from a document purchased at The Fan Museum, 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwick, London SE10 8ER.

Carrying in the right hand in front of face…………Follow me
Carrying in the left hand in front of face…………Desirous of acquaintance
Placing it on left ear…………I wish to get rid of you
Drawing across forehead…………You have changed
Twirling in the left hand…………We are watched
Carrying in the right hand…………You are too willing
Drawing through the hand…………I hate you
Twirling in the right hand…………I love another
Drawing across the cheek…………I love you
Presented shut…………Do you love me?
Drawing across the eyes…………I am sorry
Touching tip with finger…………I wish to speak to you
Letting it rest on right cheek…………Yes
Letting it rest of left cheek…………No
Open and shut…………You are cruel
Dropping it…………We will be friends
Fanning slowly…………I am married
Fanning quickly…………I am engaged
With handle to lips…………Kiss me
Open wide…………Wait for me
Carrying in left hand, open…………Come and talk to me
Placed behind head…………Don’t forget me
With little finger extended…………Good-bye

"Blond tortoiseshell monture for this 'froufrou' of marabou and ostrich feathers, which create an enchanting addition to a lady's evening attire. Tortoiseshell loop and rivet, and fine silk tassel. (Probably French, c. 1890) The Fan Museum, HA Collection 1776"  Photograph © 2015 J. Covington

“Blond tortoiseshell monture for this ‘froufrou’ of marabou and ostrich feathers, which create an enchanting addition to a lady’s evening attire. Tortoiseshell loop and rivet, and fine silk tassel. (Probably French, c. 1890) The Fan Museum, HA Collection 1776” Photograph © 2015 J. Covington