The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained — Handkerchief and Fan Flirtations

Several days ago, I came across The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained by Henry J Wehman, published in 1890.  This hilarious book includes guides for “popping” the question and writing love letters, as well as how to “manage” a beau to make him propose marriage.

Today, we will learn the subtle art of handkerchief and fan flirtation. To get us in the romantic mood, I have included several lovely illustrations from Cassell’s Family Magazine, 1886.

Now go practice your newly acquired fan and handkerchief skills on someone you love.  If they don’t understand, put on some lingerie and try again.

And now some advertisements (from Hearst’s International, 1906)

Check back next week to learn the details of hat and parasol flirtations.




11 Replies to “The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained — Handkerchief and Fan Flirtations”

  1. Love the ads.
    The code of the handkerchief is pretty much the same as the old code of the fan. Fans had become passee so ladies turned to the handkerchief as a prop for flirtation.
    Great posts.

  2. oops . didn’t see the fan instructions before.
    My aunt had a Victrola that looked just like the one in the ad . She would bring it out onto the porch and we would play the records on hot summer evenings and watch the lightning bugs dance to the tunes. It was many years after the ads, I hasten to say.

  3. @Nancy,

    Wow. What you describe is a lovely image. Those old Southern porches…love them! I have my aunt’s Victrola in my dining room. We love to play the old warbly records. Such a neat sound…

  4. It’s a bit like baseball code for C19 Romance. Tricky too if you remembered it incorrectly.

  5. I would have been an abject failure at this — I would have gotten my left and right mixed up, my north and south too, and propositioned the pastor or something. And since I don’t see a gesture for “didn’t mean it — do over!” I would have been sunk in scandal almost immediately.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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