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Topic Sets to Study the Civil War Home Page

CONTENTS SET THREE:

READING #13

 SOCIAL LIFE IN SPRINGFIELD IN "HIGH SOCIETY"

represented by the Language of the Fan and the Glove

 

 

---AND THE SECRET OF THE GLOVES

19TH CENTURY SOCIAL LIFE FOR YOUNG LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

      The mid-nineteenth century lady was a vision of elegance and grace in beautiful gowns lavishly trimmed with frills, flounces, lace, braid, fringe, ruche and ribbons. The fashion conscious Victorian lady created this appearance with a mysterious combination of the "uncomfortable and inconvenient" with the "frivolous and decorative." Numerous heavy petticoats, layers of underclothes, metal hoops, tight corsets under-pointed boned bodices of whalebone and steel were hidden by an array of ornately accented undersleeves, collars, pelerines, fans, gloves, hats, and parasols. The finished look was of elegance and grace with an illusion of ease and comfort.

 The Language of the Fan

From the Legacy Trunk, Lincoln’s Home Memorial, Springfield

During the early 19th Century, and even during the Civil War “high society” would have events to allow the single people a chance to meet each other, and maybe even develop formal courtships.  At these balls or events, the lady would carry a fan.  The fan would be used to convey messages to beau’s.  This seems strange to us now, but it was very normal and common in their time.  Here is the language of the fan:

 

Carrying in left hand........................................ Desirous of Acquaintance

Placing it on left ear ..........................................You have Changed

Twirling in left hand ..........................................I Wish to get rid of You

Drawing across forehead .................................We are Watched

Carrying in right hand/. .............................. ......You are too Willing

Drawing through the hand.................................l Hate You

Twirling in right hand .........................................I Love Another

Drawing across the cheek..................................I Love You

Closing it ............................................................I Wish to Speak With You

Carrying in right hand front of face/. ...................Follow Me

Drawing across the eyes...................... ………   I am Sorry

Letting it rest on right cheek. ....................... …   Yes

Open and shut........................................... ……...You are Cruel

Dropping........................................... …………….We will be Friends

Fanning slow........................................... ………..I am Married

Fanning fast..........................................................I am Engaged

With handle to lips ...............................................Kiss Me

Shut ....................................................................You Have Changed

Open wide. ..........................................................Wait For Me

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF THE GLOVE (from a Teapot Calendar)

A young lady in the 19th century America might draw from a variety of ploys to carry on with admirers without arousing the suspicions of a watchful chaperone or mother. 

·         If she was interested in starting a conversation, she smoothed her gloves,

·         But if indifferent, she rolled both gloves into her right hand. 

·         When she was vexed she made a cross with both gloves and set them on her lap. 

·         Tapping the chin signified “I love another.” 

·         Gently tossing the gloves upward was a delicate way of noting “I am engaged,”

·         But, if she dropped both gloves, a gentleman knew she loved him.

 

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