Auction Lot Yields Rare Autographed Victorian Fan
Gary Purmal, antique collector, found this fan in a lot of Victorian fans. His story is posted below.* Also, a note on the language of fans in the Victorian era.*
From: "Gary Purmal"
Date: March 7, 2010 2:54:54 PM GMT-07:00
Hello and congrats on a great site!
Thought this might interest you, but didn't know where to put it, so I'll let you decide! Sometime ago, I acquired a few old Victorian fans in an auction lot. One of them turned out to be a gem! It's a paper fan, about 23 inches long with typical bamboo staves and hand painted yellow flowers on it. When I opened it up, I noticed the backside was covered in signatures and dates which ranged from the end of July to the second week of August 1896. My interest was peaked when I noticed that a lot of the signatures came with job descriptions such as watchman, pilot, steersman and even captain! I realized I had a souvenir fan from some sort of cruise boat. Then I caught something in just the right angle of light. It was the words "STR. SUNSHINE" in large blue, but faded letters, printed on one of the panels. Given that the signers were from Cairo Ill. to Pine Bluffs, to Memphis, to New Orleans, it was apparent that this was a river boat running the great routes of the Ohio and Mississippi. I found Riverboat Dave's site and determined it was most likely the later "Sunshine " launched in 1892 and lost in a fire in 1904. Anyhow, I've attached photos which I passed on to Dave about two years ago, but he hasn't put them on the site as yet. Please share these with your fellow enthusiasts on your site if you wish. As near as I can tell some of the folk and crew are: Capt. A. C. Hazlett; Karl E. Brodfort? watchman ; Jas. or Jos. E. Seery, steersman; Ed Parker, steersman; John P. Thompson, mate; D. Garity; Chas. Pearson; Marie A. Blake, Memphis; Wlm. Adams, Pine Bluffs Ark.; Howard Fenton, Petersburg, Boone Co.; Gus ?? Aurora Ind.; Tillir McDurmott?, Memphis Tenn.; L. A. Kreis. There are several others which are not legible. Well , I hope this is of interest to you.
-Regards, Gary Purmal
Language of Fans
The fan was a practical and necessary accessory as well as a personal adornment of beauty. The positioning of the fan implied the feelings of the fan bearer: Right hand flutter meant "yes." Twirling said "go away." A fan opened wide stated "meet later." Tapping with one finger indicated that "Mother says 'no.' " A touch to one's cheek meant "I love you," while opening and shutting communicated "you've been unkind." Dropping a fan indicated "I'm interested." Who needed words when flirtatiousness was simply conveyed by the mere twist of a wrist?