At a time when it could be compromising for a lady to thoughtlessly blink in church, fans, like gloves, were ‘mobile communication’ accessories, using coded language for secret messages and intricate erotic play: a fan carried in the left hand meant, “Come and talk to me”, when open and shut, “You are cruel”, whereas a fan held wide open sent the unequivocal invitation: “At what hour?”…something of a vintage SMS!

The hand fan is a tho...

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