This book traces the history of fans from biblical times to the present day. Fans are made from a wide variety of materials and in numerous different shapes and sizes, and they come from many diverse cultures. Originating as an everyday functional object, the fan rapidly acquired ceremonial and social significance, becoming the utilitarian sceptre of kings, the subject of conversation for blue-stockings of the seventeenth century, the toy of frivolous ladies, the vehicle of revolutionary messages, the sentimental possession of the Victorians, the mirror of the Belle Epoque, and an advertising gimmick. Above all, fans are hand-crafted objects and therefore no two are identical, which makes recording and classsifying them an absorbing and fascinating historical adventure.
Helene Alexander FRSA has collected fans for over thirty years, lectured extensively on this subject in Britain and the USA and has many articles published. She has mounted numerous exhibitions of fans throughout England, usually producing a catalogue, and has sent fans and fan leaves from her collection to France, Germany, Italy and the USA, besides the British Museum and other museums in Britain. She was founder president of the Fan Circle International. In 1991 she founded The Fan Museum and is currently President of the Fan Museum Trust, as well as honorary Director and Curator of this small but unique award-winning specialised museum.