Mourning Fans

Just as people have clothes for funerals and the weeks or months of mourning after, there were fans designed for mourning. These mourning fans were a definite social necessity and were often fashioned in black materials to coincide with the black clothing worn during recognized periods of mourning.

One widow's fan from 1751 is inscribed with an irreverent quote that pokes fun at the culture of mourning: “Here lies Fred, who was alive and is dead; Had it been his father, I had much rather; Had it been his brother, still better than another; Had it been his sister, no one would have missed her; Had it been the whole generation, Still better for the nation; But since ‘tis only Fred, who was alive and is dead, There’s no more to be said.”