In this section of the textile website, accessories carried in the hands are explored. During the Victorian through Edwardian period and even up to the 30’s, fans, walking sticks, and parasols were meant to aid and adorn the proper woman or man of society.
Handheld fans were practical especially in the south before the invention of air conditioning but were also used to enhance an outfit, and sometimes to communicate wordless messages to those of the opposite sex across the room. Parasols also were practical, shading the user from the harsh sun to keep cooler while protecting the stylish fair skin from tanning; however, it also afforded a palette for lace, frills, design, and individualized style in which one could complement an outfit to frame her face. While parasols were used for woman, walking sticks were carried for gentlemen’s outerwear. Although these might have had a practical side for security in footing as well as fending off small animals or brush from the path, they too became a pallet for design and necessary accessory to the gentleman’s attire.
The museum has only a few examples of these types accessories within the Edwardian period. However, more “modern” examples of less elaborate fans exist in the museum’s collection including fans made from wood, reed, and/or fronds and are sometimes printed with advertisements for local businesses. The museum also has a collection of paper fans printed with a variety of subjects ranging from inspiring Biblical scenes to advertisements; however, they are not included here since they are considered part of the document collection.
Handheld Fan with Mother-of-Pearl Inlay
2005-002-06 TB 49 R4Sc1 Jennifer Altman Collection
This handheld fan measures 8 ½” long x 15 ¼” wide when open and boasts 4 ¼ inches of elaborate gold and mother-of-pearl decorated wood slats extending from closure rivet and a silver metal horseshoe attachment. The 4 ¼ inch black silk ground is decorated with a hand painted floral design with copper/ gold accents on floral and leaves and section has an 1/8” gold edging. The mother-of-pearl overlay on wood exterior edges adds the finishing touches.
Black Folding Parasol 78-193-07, 78-203 TB49 R1Sc2
Marie Crockett Collection
This black silk parasol is 28 Inches long from end to end and made with a folding handle into a twisted shape. (A metal cap locks over the joint when extended. ) It opens to 17 inches wide and the underside reveals a sheered black silk with an inner circle only 4 inches in circumference. The edges are treated with a scallop edge and the tip is decorated with a 1 5/8 sateen silk bow also in black.