Not the oscillating kind that sits on a table, or the big boys that hang from your ceiling – I’m talking about the kind of fan you used to grab from a box and wave at your own face to keep cool.
In the early twentieth century, one’s fan was considered a fashion accessory. This item from the February 25, 1904 edition of the Chatham Record notes a not-so-subtle development in fan fashion.
The Six-Inch Fan.
The small fans have been used for several seasons now, under the name of theatre fans. They were found the most useful thing for use at the play, where a large fan is almost as much of a nuisance to one’s neighbors as a large hat. And, having proved their convenience in this respect, they have been accepted for other uses as well. They are not nearly so picturesque and graceful as the large fans, especially those soft big ones, ones of ostrich feather which were in favor for some years. But one must bow to the fashion, and its decree is that the six-inch fan is the smart one this year. – Harpers’s Bazar (sic).