The Fan

King's Theatre Fan 1788

King’s Theatre Fan
Published 1 January 1788
Geraldine Womack and Norman D. Philbrick Library of Dramatic Arts and Theatre History
Special Collections, Claremont Colleges Library

The King’s Theatre hand fan is a unique piece of theatrical ephemera in the Philbrick Library. Hand-held fans have a long history in Asia and Europe; they especially were popular in 18th century in Europe. A hand fan printed for use by theater-goers served several uses—a way to keep cool, a social instrument (with a sophisticated set of gestures or “language”), a way to identify the season’s box subscribers, and a fashion accessory. By the 18th century, fans were solely used by and made for women.

The Philbrick Library comprises over ten thousand books, pamphlets, and periodicals, two thousand letters by well-known individuals associated with the theater, two hundred framed portraits, posters, photographs, set and costume designs, a large collection of loose portraits, English and American playbills, manuscripts, and several stage models. The late Dr. and Mrs. Philbrick both graduated from Pomona College. A dedication ceremony for their collection was held in Special Collections on November 8, 1986.

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