Tag Archives: France

Encore: Choose Your Fan and Then Your Flutter: 1919

fans2

American Girls Reviving the Fan, That Fit Symbol of Fluttering Femininity

Approach of Period of Coquetry Foreseen in New Popularity of Long Fashionable Appendage

By Esther Harney

Fans are coming back into vogue again. They never go out of fashion, of course, for they are as old as coquetry, as gallantry itself. But today they are appearing in full blaze of glory, a sure sign, we are told, that an age of coquetry and extreme femininity is approaching as a reaction from the stern period of the war.

Manufacturers will tell you this news happily. Not for years have they had so many orders for fans of every description from the hand-made lace and tortoise shell varieties of the duchess to the little inexpensive chiffon spangled fan which the high school girls “perfectly adore” to flutter at school “hops.”

Manufacturers will also tell you that there could be no stronger evidence of a general return on the part of woman to her ancient arts and wiles than this reinstatement of the fan. (They are qualified to speak—of course.) During the war there was little time for fans and for femininity. Nor in that period which preceded the war did woman fancy fans; instead she preferred a riding crop or a tennis bat. It was not the fashion then, you will recall, to be delicate and feminine.

But today with all our boys returning from overseas from harsh scenes of war and from other scenes and adventures (oh, the reputed wiles of les belles Francaises), American women are beginning to realize that they must rise to the occasion. Femininity must rule supreme. (The soldiers like womanly women, they say.) and as a symbol of lovely femininity the women have taken up the fan.

International Imagination.

Then, too, American girls are looking to France these days. (They are trying to cultivate an international imagination, you know.) And among the French, fans are popular. With them, for instance, the wedding fan is an important item of the marriage trousseau. And was it not Mme. E Stael who recognized an art in the graceful handling of the fan? “What graces,” she wrote, “are placed in woman’s power if she knows how to use  a fan. In all her wardrobe there is no ornament with which she can produce so great an effect.” Verily the revival of the fan in American can be traced to the influence of France on the American doughboy…

Descended from Palm Leaf.

All ages have contributed to the history of the fan. It has it pedigree like everything else. If a thorn was the first needle, no doubt a palm leaf was the first fan. Standards of rich plumage were present when the Queen of Sheba paid homage to Solomon. Queen Elizabeth gave the fan a place of distinction and was the cause of prosperity among the fan-makers of her day. She is said to have had as many as 30 fans for her use. During her reign ostrich feather fans were introduced in England. Charlotte Corday of French evolutionary fame is said to have used a fan expertly : She held a fan in one hand while she stabbed Marat with a dagger which she held in the other hand.

Great painters of all ages have tried their hands at fans. One famous artist spent nine years completing a fan for Mme. De Pompadour, which cost $30,000. Period fans arose to commemorate events, follies and fashions of the day. Besides an intermediary in the affairs of love a fan became a vehicle for satire, verse and epigram.  

Coronation of Napoleon fan, 1807 http://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/117894

Coronation of Napoleon fan, 1807 http://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/117894

In the canons of “fanology” are described “the angry flutter, the modish flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry flutter, the amorous flutter.” A flutter for every type, you see.

American girls should then first choose their fan and then their flutter. Perhaps they will revive the art of miniature fan painting as a new profession for women. They should, of course, remember that they can learn much of the art of the fan from Europe (except from Germany. Can you fancy a German woman flirting with a fan?) and plan to obtain their practice on the back porch some hot July evening. That will surely amuse their soldier callers. And at least we all can afford a fan of the palm leaf variety. But if we must take up the fan, the symbol of the new age that is before us, just we also take up the spirit of the age in which it was wafted victoriously? Must we be Victorian?

Boston [MA] Herald 10 May 1919: p. 15 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  And what, Mrs Daffodil wishes to know, is wrong with being “Victorian?” Alas, the author of this piece was entirely too sanguine about a return to femininity. Far from becoming more womanly, young persons shingled their hair, abandoned proper corsetry, smoked in public, and adopted sexually ambiguous costumes and attitudes. The queenly curves of the pre-War years gave way to a flattened feminine figure that caused many physicians to despair of the continuation of the species. Still, in one detail, the author was correct: The beaded and brilliantined females who thronged the night clubs, did carry fans—immense, vampish affairs of ostrich feathers or sequined chiffon–but recognizably fans. One might suggest that these accessories lent their name to the Girl of the Period: the Flapper.

For a school of “fan-ology,” see this post.  And for more details on how to select a fan, this post.

A vampish fan of the period.

A vampish fan of the period.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Choose Your Fan and Then Your Flutter: A Fan Revival: 1919

fans2

American Girls Reviving the Fan, That Fit Symbol of Fluttering Femininity

Approach of Period of Coquetry Foreseen in New Popularity of Long Fashionable Appendage

By Esther Harney

Fans are coming back into vogue again. They never go out of fashion, of course, for they are as old as coquetry, as gallantry itself. But today they are appearing in full blaze of glory, a sure sign, we are told, that an age of coquetry and extreme femininity is approaching as a reaction from the stern period of the war.

Manufacturers will tell you this news happily. Not for years have they had so many orders for fans of every description from the hand-made lace and tortoise shell varieties of the duchess to the little inexpensive chiffon spangled fan which the high school girls “perfectly adore” to flutter at school “hops.”

Manufacturers will also tell you that there could be no stronger evidence of a general return on the part of woman to her ancient arts and wiles than this reinstatement of the fan. (They are qualified to speak—of course.) During the war there was little time for fans and for femininity. Nor in that period which preceded the war did woman fancy fans; instead she preferred a riding crop or a tennis bat. It was not the fashion then, you will recall, to be delicate and feminine.

But today with all our boys returning from overseas from harsh scenes of war and from other scenes and adventures (oh, the reputed wiles of les belles Francaises), American women are beginning to realize that they must rise to the occasion. Femininity must rule supreme. (The soldiers like womanly women, they say.) and as a symbol of lovely femininity the women have taken up the fan.

International Imagination.

Then, too, American girls are looking to France these days. (They are trying to cultivate an international imagination, you know.) And among the French, fans are popular. With them, for instance, the wedding fan is an important item of the marriage trousseau. And was it not Mme. E Stael who recognized an art in the graceful handling of the fan? “What graces,” she wrote, “are placed in woman’s power if she knows how to use  a fan. In all her wardrobe there is no ornament with which she can produce so great an effect.” Verily the revival of the fan in American can be traced to the influence of France on the American doughboy…

Descended from Palm Leaf.

All ages have contributed to the history of the fan. It has it pedigree like everything else. If a thorn was the first needle, no doubt a palm leaf was the first fan. Standards of rich plumage were present when the Queen of Sheba paid homage to Solomon. Queen Elizabeth gave the fan a place of distinction and was the cause of prosperity among the fan-makers of her day. She is said to have had as many as 30 fans for her use. During her reign ostrich feather fans were introduced in England. Charlotte Corday of French evolutionary fame is said to have used a fan expertly : She held a fan in one hand while she stabbed Marat with a dagger which she held in the other hand.

Great painters of all ages have tried their hands at fans. One famous artist spent nine years completing a fan for Mme. De Pompadour, which cost $30,000. Period fans arose to commemorate events, follies and fashions of the day. Besides an intermediary in the affairs of love a fan became a vehicle for satire, verse and epigram.  

In the canons of “fanology” are described “the angry flutter, the modish flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry flutter, the amorous flutter.” A flutter for every type, you see.

American girls should then first choose their fan and then their flutter. Perhaps they will revive the art of miniature fan painting as a new profession for women. They should, of course, remember that they can learn much of the art of the fan from Europe (except from Germany. Can you fancy a German woman flirting with a fan?) and plan to obtain their practice on the back porch some hot July evening. That will surely amuse their soldier callers. And at least we all can afford a fan of the palm leaf variety. But if we must take up the fan, the symbol of the new age that is before us, just we also take up the spirit of the age in which it was wafted victoriously? Must we be Victorian?

Boston [MA] Herald 10 May 1919: p. 15 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  And what, Mrs Daffodil wishes to know, is wrong with being “Victorian?” Alas, the author of this piece was entirely too sanguine about a return to femininity. Far from becoming more womanly, young persons shingled their hair, abandoned proper corsetry, smoked in public, and adopted sexually ambiguous costumes and attitudes. The queenly curves of the pre-War years gave way to a flattened feminine figure that caused many physicians to despair of the continuation of the species. Still, in one detail, the author was correct: The beaded and brilliantined females who thronged the night clubs, did carry fans—immense, vampish affairs of ostrich feathers or sequined chiffon–but recognizably fans. One might suggest that these accessories lent their name to the Girl of the Period: the Flapper.

A vampish fan of the period.

A vampish fan of the period.

The Foundlings of France: 1831 and 1857

A Mother depositing her child at the Foundling Hospital in Paris by Harry Nelson O'Neil 1817-1884

A Mother depositing her child at the Foundling Hospital in Paris by Harry Nelson O’Neil 1817-1884

The Foundling Hospital at Paris

No public edifice ever presented an appearance more in opposition to the painful reflections to which its mere existence gives rise, than the Foundling Hospital. You expect on entering, nothing but tears and disgust, and yet you scarcely hear the cries of the newly-born babes — you expect matter for dark philosophical emotion, and you see nothing around you but flowers, and good grey Sisters, and snow-white curtains, and crucifixes, to which you may add, the fruits of frailty, perhaps of crime. You walk between two rows of cradles, as in a flower-garden; only in the latter, nature gives to the orphan plants their proper nurture. Here you may see heads with flowing yellow ringlets, angel faces, a room poetically called the crib, a pretty little chapel, and a dissecting room. This edifice was formerly a convent of Oratorians; it is now a Foundling Hospital; — there are two centuries between these names. There is nothing remarkable in the building itself; it is like a college, a manufactory, a house in the street, or your father’s house. But I had almost forgotten a statue which you salute on entering. Vincent de Paule [the Founder] keeps watch in the vestibule of his temple….

On arriving at the outer door, I beheld a sort of box or cupboard with a double opening, one towards the street, and the other inside the building. It was much like the letter-box at a post-office; and the comparison is strengthened when we consider that a mother often dropped her child into it as she would a billet-doux, with this shade of difference, that the billet began the intrigue, and the child ended it. This box or cupboard is no longer used. Formerly the unhappy mother deposited there, mysteriously and at night, her new-born babe; then, after ringing the bell to awaken the sister on duty, she disappeared — her tears and her remorse still heard in the surrounding darkness. It is otherwise now — a singular abuse compelled the change. Dead bodies of children were often found in the cupboard, put there either to avoid the expense of burial or to conceal a crime. This mode of defrauding the guillotine and the undertaker, no longer exists. A sister sets up all night at the entrance of the parlour, and receives from the hand, the children that are brought to the hospital during her watch. The cupboard is closed, and its lock rusty. Besides, this mode has long since lost the charm of secrecy.

Women now take little pains to conceal their pregnancy, for mishaps are thought less of than formerly. Whether the child be born in a boudoir or in a garret, it is now a mere family affair, and amicably adjusted. The infant is taken to the hospital at noon day; it is even recommended to the kind attention of the Sisters; its father’s name is carefully repeated, and after a few tears the whole is forgotten. If, subsequently, the unhappy babe cry, expire, be cut to pieces by the anatomist, and its severed limbs sewn up in a canvas bag and consigned without ceremony to the earth, no matter, — family honour is safe; the mother goes either to a ball or to the Salpetriere; civilization continues its progress; surgical knowledge excites admiration, and we have lectures on political economy at the university. All this is admirable!

Sometimes — but instances are rare — the mother is heart stricken at the idea of a separation from her babe. Her hands tremble as she unrolls the swath; she sobs with agony as she strains to her bosom the child who shall never call her Mother. I have heard of affecting incidents, of heart-rending sorrows, and of entire dramas, whose forcible colouring imparts a vivid character to such scenes of painful excitement. Some poor girls of the working classes put a mark upon their babes; others, suspend from the neck of the little innocent, a chaplet, or an old ring tied to a ribbon. Others, again, mention a beloved name to the Sisters of the establishment, and entreat that the infant may bear that name. These unhappy mothers call every month, and every week, to ask how their children go on; — for they are not allowed to see them; nor are they allowed to take the bodies of such as die — these are the prey of the surgeon’s scalpel. Others, of these wretched females, unable to bear the separation, contrive, by an excusable deception, to get themselves hired as wet-nurses to the establishment, for the sole purpose of suckling their own babes….

There is a register, a simple register, in which is inscribed, at the entrance of each child, the most minute particulars attendant upon its arrival. In this register, for instance, is written, that the child was dressed in coarse linen, or in a fine frock trimmed with lace; or, again, that it was quite naked — that the parents, or mother, had wept, or had not wept. The words they spoke are taken down, and their regrets, their anxiety or indifference, and their general bearing, are recorded — the day and hour of the child’s arrival, its name (if it bore a name), and any disease with which it might be attacked, is minutely entered. This register, as you will observe, is filled with distinct and positive information. When the child dies, the date of its death is likewise added to the other particulars. This book, therefore, contains the most voluminous and precise annals of the most extraordinary history that ever existed. Moreover, these chronicles of an hospital, this great register of another species of national debt, is kept for a useful purpose. When the parents are desirous of withdrawing a child from the hospital, the old and stained pages of the register afford the means of identity. You purchase your recollections from this book; and you drive a hard bargain for the few words, which are all that remains in the world to establish the proof of your paternity. They are your son’s talisman. The employes of the hospital, therefore, entertain for this book the same respect as for a vestry register. They put on their gloves to open it—they consider it a precious relic. Make a sacrifice of gold, and its tabernacle will be opened unto you. Add twenty francs more, and you will obtain materials to write the extract. Nobody sees this book; the person in whose charge it is, locks it carefully into a cupboard. He is afraid of making the public acquainted with the golden mystery of its possession….

There is one fact to which I call the attention of the utilitarians. Compared with the other capitals of Europe, and in proportion to the number of its inhabitants, Paris is the city whose hospital receives, on a general average, the fewest foundlings. And yet, of all nations, France is the one which shows the most indifference in making these unfortunate beings useful members of society. In London the education of these orphan children partakes of the Franklin school, and of the hospitality of an industrious people. Correct manners, and even morals, are instilled into them; which is rare with us. I must add that the mothers are obliged to appear, prior to their accouchement, and declare their pregnancy, and although their names escape the dishonour of being registered, the shame of appearing beforehand, deters all but the most wretched and the most abandoned from availing themselves of the charity…. In France, scarcely have the foundlings passed the age of childhood, ere they are dismissed from the hospital. They are dispersed, whether they will or not, among the lowest classes, with the present of an imperfect education; and if one of them should, under his homely garments, feel the thrill of genius, and try to wrench off the helot’s collar, his choice would still be confined to the alternatives of a plane, or a spade, or starvation.

If I were to say that not one-half grow up to reap this inheritance, poor as it is, and that the remainder die from the privation of a mother’s milk, the uncertainty of science, and the infection of loathsome diseases, I should be far within the mark. At the present day, nearly three-fifths of the foundlings die in their first year. A fourth of the newly-born children perish during the first five days, and more than two-thirds after the first month. Five years after the day on which eight children had been deposited at the hospital, only three of them would be found alive. Extend the time to twelve years, and there is only one survivor…. It is, however, some consolation to learn, that the number of deaths decreases daily, and that the mortality of the hospital, at present, bears no proportion to what it was forty years ago. A single fact will prove this. Now-a-days, convenient carriages bring nurses to Paris from the country, and each Department has its foundling hospital. But can it be credited that, prior to the Revolution, the hospital in the metropolis was the only one in the kingdom, from all parts of which children were brought to Paris to receive a Life Ticket, which oftener turned out a certificate for death! A porter walked through the provinces, carrying upon his back a padded box containing three newly-born babes placed upright in it, supported by wadding, and breathing through a hole in the lid. This man quietly wended his way towards Paris, careless of dust, mud, the mid-day sun, or the bustle of inns. Now and then he stopped to take his meals and make his young companions suck a little milk. On opening the box, he sometimes found one of them dead. When this happened, he would throw the body by the road-side and continue his journey with the remainder. On his arrival he got a receipt for the goods delivered, without being answerable for accidents on the road.

If the present system has obliterated all traces of this deplorable practice, society is not proportionably benefited. In France, as in the other continental states, the direct ratio of the increase in the number of deserted children is progressive with the amelioration in the administration of these hospitals. This fact makes men doubt whether it would perhaps be better, for the healing of this social ulcer, if these children had either been strangled at their birth, left to expire, under the pangs of hunger, or with cold upon the street pavement. Such is the opinion of Malthus, the celebrated English economist, who has written an admirable work on Population. This terrible judgment is, however, not without appeal; but, on looking at the number of admissions into the Foundling Hospital at Paris, the mind cannot sometimes help coming to a conclusion in its favour. Paris: or, The book of the hundred-and-one, Volume 2, 1833

Just over twenty years later, the situation of French foundlings had not changed much:

Whenever a woman desires to abandon her child, she appears before a magistrate for that purpose; he is obliged to accept the child if she demands it. If she will keep it, he is impowered to give her aid. If the child is abandoned, the clothes are saved, or some token is kept, by which to maintain the identity of the child, and to enable the parents to reclaim it, if they wish to do so at any future time. In former times government made it easy for a mother to rid herself of her child —it being only necessary for her to take the child to the hospital during the night, place it in a box and ring the bell, when it was at once drawn into the institution and no questions asked. This arrangement was abolished some years ago, for the avowed reason that it encouraged vice, but really because such numbers of children were abandoned that the cost to the state was enormous. The crime of infanticide, however, has greatly increased since the change was made. The Medical World: A Journal of Universal Medical Intelligence, Volume 2 May 20, 1857, p. 199

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has left out the portions where the author excoriates the fair sex for its weakness in producing these “fruits of frailty,” as he seems to labour under a misapprehension that the female of the human species can reproduce without assistance.

Mothers in 18th-century England who left their children at London’s Foundling Hospital also left tokens so that they could reclaim their child if their circumstances improved. These tokens–scraps of fabric, baby clothes, or other items–were saved and carefully noted in ledgers. Some of these poignant items are now on display at the “Threads of Feeling” exhibition at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum on West Francis Street in Colonial Williamsburg. Formerly shown at the Foundling Museum in London, the DeWitt Wallace is the only venue for the exhibit in the United States.