Twelve Days of Collections: day six

Welcome to day six of the Twelve Days of Collections! The sixth day of our series brings six geese-a-laying, or in our case, geese used for a slightly different purpose.

Within the Costume and Textiles collections cared for by Hampshire Cultural Trust is a wide range of accessories throughout history, including fans. White goose feathers seem to have been a popular material for fan crafting, as several examples in the collection can be found incorporating them, like these, most dating from the 1800s.

Handheld fans date back thousands of years. Ruins and ancient texts have revealed that fans were used in Ancient Greece, from as early as 4th century BC. A fan was a popular ladies accessory in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the design would show the owner’s social status. Fans were often painted with colourful designs, including butterflies, flowers and birds.

As well as the obvious practical use for keeping cool, early fans were also used for ceremonial purposes. A popular belief is that in Victorian times, a lady could send secret messages within strict social etiquette by holding her fan in a specific way. Duvelleroy, a Parisian fan maker, claimed in a leaflet that a fan could be used to convey a range of sentiments, from ‘kiss me’ to ‘I hate you’!

Join us tomorrow for day seven, and catch up with the days so far here!

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Hampshire Cultural Trust

From museums to galleries to arts centres, we manage and support attractions across the county, welcoming over 740,000 people each year. Our charitable purpose is changing lives through culture.
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