In the 1870s and 1880s, many fans and dresses were made of the same fabric. This was so that the two would match exactly. It is unusual for both dress and fan to survive. In this case, the unpicked dress panel accompanied the fan when it was bequeathed to the V&A. The use of machine embroidery on fan leaves developed during the period 1850 to 1900. It was first shown at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. The quality of machine embroidery soon rivalled that of hand needlework, and the mechanised version became a popular technique for embellishing both clothing and fans.


  • Title: Fan
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1880/1890
  • Location: Great Britain
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 31.6 cm, Width: 7.4 cm closed, Width: 58.0 cm open, Depth: 3.0 cm, Length: 12.25 in
  • Provenance: Bequeathed by Miss M. E. Pleydell-Bouverie
  • Medium: Machine-embroidered satin in silks, edged with bobbin lace, backed with silk, mother-of-pearl, metal

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