Valley Wives February Meeting Report

From Joan Steel

Jill opened the meeting with verses about a smile being infectious and starting an epidemic throughout the world! A happy thought to raise the spirits in these difficult times. A letter from the High Wycombe Multiple Sclerosis Society, thanking the V.W.’s for the £60 donation to their funds, was read out by Jill, and she then introduced our speaker Amanda Raynor whose subject was “The Language of the Fan”.

To set the scene, Amanda had dressed in Edwardian costume complete with chatelaine around her waist, to hold her fan and other useful items. She opened her fan in a particular way to bid us welcome to her talk. Amanda described fans as basically simple and practical items that can also be beautiful and desirable objects, often given in the 1770’s as love tokens, also presented at engagements and weddings. There were many varying styles and qualities of fans but they always followed the fashion of the day. If the costumes had large skirts like crinolines then the fans were big and in the 1920’s with short plain skirts, they were small. Fans first appeared in the 14th century, although the language of the fan was only created in the 18th century and eventually died out by the first world war, as other communications developed. They expressed the language of the heart and could show every type of emotion merely by the position in which the fan was held, e.g. over the mouth, below the chin, towards the shoulder or at the side etc., even the way the fan was fluttered had a meaning. Young ladies of quality would be chaperoned and as discretion was the order of the day, the only way of communicating with the man of their dreams was by fan. It was said in 1770 that ladies could chat without the use of the tongue! Amanda has an amazing collection of over 500 fans and showed us some beautiful slides and photographs of them to illustrate the designs, the kinds of materials used to construct fans and the decoration of hand painting and embroidery. Very much works of art. Heather proposed the vote of thanks for a most interesting talk.

Our next meeting on 2nd March is an Open meeting entitled “Portsmouth to Barcelona Cruise” by Gordon Massie.

A few tickets are available for the Dinner and Concert on 23rd March. Please telephone Doreen on 564877 as soon as possible if you would like to come.

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