7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Friday, March 10, 2017


In writing the (as yet unpublished) sequel to A Heart Set Free, there is a scene in the story that deals with thelanguage of the fan”. During the Colonial period, ladies’ fans were both decorative clothing accessories and utilitarian. Remember, these ladies often had many layers of clothing on and “air-conditioning” was far in the future.

However, ladies carried fans not only for decorative or cooling purposes. They were also used as a means of subtle and private communication with men in public locations. As I researched this subject I discovered that the meanings for the various fan movements changed over time.
Here are the commonly understood “expressions” utilized during the colonial era:

A fan placed near the heart:  "You have won my love."
A closed fan touching the right eye:  "When may I be allowed to see you?"
The number of sticks shown answered the question:  "At what hour?"
Threatening gestures with a closed fan:  "Do not be so imprudent"
Half-opened fan pressed to the lips:  "You may kiss me."
Hands clasped together holding an open fan:  "Forgive me."
Covering the left ear with an open fan:   "Do not betray our secret."
Hiding the eyes behind an open fan:       "I love you."
Shutting a fully-opened fan slowly:         "I promise to marry you."
Drawing the fan across the eyes:  "I am sorry."                                                             Touching the finger to the tip of the fan:    "I wish to speak with you."
Letting the fan rest on the right cheek:  "Yes."
Letting the fan rest on the left cheek:     "No."
Opening and closing the fan several times:   "You are cruel"
Dropping the fan:    "We will be friends."
Fanning slowly:       "I am married."
Fanning quickly:     "I am engaged."
Putting the fan handle to the lips:     "Kiss me."
Opening a fan wide:            "Wait for me."
Placing the fan behind the head:      "Do not forget me"
Placing the fan behind the head with finger extended:    Goodbye."
Fan in right hand in front of face:     "Follow me."
Fan in left hand in front of face:  "I am desirous of your acquaintance."
Fan held over left ear:   "I wish to get rid of you."                                                         Drawing the fan across the forehead:     "You have changed."
Twirling the fan in the left hand:     "We are being watched."
Twirling the fan in the right hand:  "I love another."
Carrying the open fan in the right hand:   "You are too willing."                               Carrying the open fan in the left hand:   "Come and talk to me."
Drawing the fan through the hand:  "I hate you!"
Drawing the fan across the cheek: "I love you!"
Presenting the fan shut: "Do you love me?"

Do you own (or flirt) with a fan?
I own two fans. At my age they are very utilitarian -- to keep cool.

I will be addressing the various varieties of fans available and popular during the colonial period in a later post. 

Janet Grunst can be found at:
http://JanetGrunst.com                                                                                                                             https://www.facebook.com/Janet-Grunst-Author-385405948228216/


  1. Heavens! I couldn't remember half of those and would doubtless send all types of mixed messages. Yikes!

    1. Exactly! And my heroine did just that.

  2. Those poor gentlemen who had to also memorize the clues!

    1. I hadn't thought of that, Carla. They probably thought it might be advantageous to learn the language of the fan.

  3. Those are awesome. :) But I agree with Carla, poor gentleman who have to try to keep up with it too!

    1. Imagine if they read the message incorrectly, Angela. Could lead to some very embarrassing situations.

  4. Oh my, very interesting post JANET! I am with Pegg, I would certainly send a message I did not intend to send to the wrong gentleman! And those gentlemen watching those fans of all the ladies would certainly figure out their messages and know their little games, if indeed they were playing games with the gentlemen. What did they do if they wanted to cool off with the fan, not send messages? At this point, that is what I would want a fan for, to keep cool. ;-)
    Blessings, Tina

    1. But wouldn't it be fun to observe, Tina!

  5. I've read different articles (years ago when research for another book) where it was debated whether people really actually used the language of the fan. I thought it fascinating but could never quite decide what was truth. I remember one guy saying men don't pick up on subtleties, how were they ever supposed to pick up on the language of the fan. :-) I'd be the one who would be oblivious and sending all sorts of signals while just trying to cool off. :-)

  6. Oh and I've always wondered, how did the man respond? We're these "conversations" held next to each other or across the room? So fascinating...

  7. Crystal, I suspect many of us would just be trying to cool off. I imagine one purpose of these "conversations" was that they could be held across the room from each other and another might be for a more coy female to express herself.

  8. I imagine one purpose of these "conversations" was that they could be held across the room from each other, and . . . another to allow a more coy female to express herself.

  9. I understand the right and left thing, as I have two iron eagles in my house. If the eagle's head is turned right it means peace, and if it's turned left it means war. Those signals are clear enough!

    1. Wow, Cathryn. That sounds like messaging after the wedding. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. How interesting! And you've just given me a scene idea for my WIP. Nebulous at the moment, but it just may get there. Thank you!

    1. You can have a bunch of fun with this, Judith. I did.

  11. Thank you for your interesting post. I own a fan but no flirting for me!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Melanie. I thought about trying some of these at home, but then again, what good would it do me if my husband had no clue about the code.

  12. Most interesting, Janet. And let me say I do like your book cover for A heart Set Free, which I've already filed in my LPC file. It's similar to what I have in mind for my LPC book cover for In a Pirate's Debt to be released in May. Been collecting book covers I like. Need to read your story, too! ( :
    Elva Cobb Martin
    Pres. ACFW-SC Chapter (2014-2017)
    Anderson, SC

  13. Thank you, Elva, and I hope you enjoy the story. Congratulations on your upcoming release with LPC


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