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Shopping in the Renaissance: Consumer Cultures in Italy, 1400-1600 - includes designs for fans (p. 13)

This page has divided Renaissance images of fans into categories by style: feather fans, flag fans, folding fans, and straw fans.

For additional information on the history of fans and their manufacture, see these links.

Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk,
The which that was ycleped Absolon.
Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon,
And strouted as a fanne large and brode;
Ful streight and evene lay his joly shode

The Miller's Tale from
The Canterbury Tales, ll. 204-207

  • Aspic (fol. 65v) and dreams (fol. 89v) Tacuinum Sanitatis (BNF Nouvelle acquisition latine 1673), c. 1390-1400
  • Assembly, Tacuinum Sanitatis (BNF Latin 9333, fol. 99v), early 15th century
  • Cockade fan/flabellum, France, 15th century


Here will I mention a thing, that although perhaps it will seeme but frivolous to divers readers that have already travelled in Italy; yet because unto many that neither have beene there, nor ever intend to go thither while they live, it will be a meere novelty, I will not let it passe unmentioned. The first Italian fannes that I saw in Italy did I observe in this space betwixt Pizighiton and Cremona. But afterward I observed them common in most places of Italy where I travelled. These fannes both men and women of the country doe carry to coole themselves withall in the time of heate, by the often fanning of their faces. Most of them are very elegant and pretty things. For whereas the fanne consisteth of a painted peece of paper and a little wooden handle; the paper which is fastened into the top is on both sides most curiously adorned with excellent pictures, either of amorous things tending to dalliance, having some witty Italian verses or fine emblemes written under them; or of some notable Italian city with a briefe description thereof added thereunto. These fannes are of a meane price. For a man may buy one of the fairest of them for so much money as countervaileth our English groate.

Thomas Coryat, Coryat's Crudities
(Observations of Cremona), 1611


FOLDING FANS (including brisé fans)