Fan Etiquette

Joseph Addison, publisher of The Spectator in the early 1700s, was known to have said that if he could only see the fan of a disciplined lady he could tell her mood and what she was feeling. Addison also started an academy for women to be trained in the use and handling of a fan. In regards to fan etiquette he said, "Women are armed with fans as men with swords, and sometimes do more execution with them."

Here are a few other signals listed in "How to Fan a Flirt"

  • Carrying a fan in the left hand signified "desirous of acquaintance"
  • Allowing the fan to rest on the right cheek meant "yes" and on the left "no"
  • Placing the fan on the left ear signified "you have changed"
  • Drawing a fan across the forehead meant "we are watched"
  • Drawing a fan across the eyes meant "I am sorry"
  • Opening a fan wide meant "wait for me"
  • Dropping a fan meant "we could be friends"
  • Fast fanning meant "I am married"
  • Swift drawing of a fan through the hand meant "I hate you"
  • Placing the handle of a fan to the lips meant "kiss me"
  • Twirling a fan in the left hand meant "I wish to be rid of you"
  • Twirling a fan in the right hand meant "I love another"
  • An open fan held in the right hand in front of the face meant "follow me"