From around 1600, the hand-held fan was used in Europe, where it also gained the notion of a utensil for coquetry. Later on, fans were also used as commemorating special or historic events, such as weddings and coronations, the first hot air balloon flight of the De Montgolfière brothers in 1783 or for the French Revolution. Others were destined to entertain, such as the fortune-telling fan or those depicting mythological scenes.
Regardless of what they are made of, most folding fans have the same basic parts. The piece that’s most visible to the eye, and the source of decorative expression for fan makers, is the leaf, which is creased so that it compacts into a little package within the fan’s monture, which includes the sticks, ribs, and outside guards. A pivot anchors the bottom of the fan, which is also known as the head, and that’s about it. Everything else is decoration.These accessories are much more fragile than they might first appear. The combination of hard or sharp materials such as bone, ivory and metals, combined with fragile textiles, feathers, and paper, make them especially vulnerable to damage. Fans decorated with feathers are very susceptible to insect damage. These fans need to be boxed and perhaps bagged independently. Opening and closing the fans may cause creases to split. In addition, fans, like hats, are prone to damage with repeated handling; care must be taken when wrapping and unwrapping them. Therefore, they are best left resting uncovered on a board with twill tape ties to prevent them from sliding. Of course material selection for the storage container is critical; ensure all materials are acid-free for the artifact's long-term preservation.
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