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Civil War Widow's Mourning Fan

$150.00 $125.00
(You save $25.00)

Product Description

This is another nice item being offered, it is a Civil War Mourning Fan. In the closed position it measures 9 ¼” x 1 ¼” – when opened the diameter of the fan is 9 ¼”. The handle is made of wood with a black covering; the fan itself appears to be thin linen.

In order to understand mourning rituals, you must understand the conditions of the 19th century. The Civil War, disease and primitive medical treatments made death far more prevalent than today.

Death was so common that mourning rituals and customs were refined from centuries of superstitions and beliefs as a way of showing proper respect for the deceased. The wearing of black is a custom that has been used for centuries. It dates back to a time when death was feared and wearing black was thought to make mourners draw less attention to themselves so that death would not claim them as its next victim. Mourning rituals were directly aimed at women, especially widows.

Mourning pertaining to women was in three stages- heavy/deep mourning, full mourning, and half mourning. Mourning a spouse generally would last one to 2 ½ years. Black clothing, jewelry, veils, fans and bonnets usually lasted a year and a day, and then could be removed. Mourning clothes were expected to be plain with little or no adornment.

A widow would often put away her mourning clothes when the mourning period had ended instead of discarding it (for obvious reasons). Southern women were more likely to save their clothing should it be needed again and they knew it would be hard to replace it during the war. Often southern women could not obtain proper mourning clothing, and resorted to dying existing clothing if possible. Many journal entries describe the heartbreak of not being able to properly mourn the death of a loved one.

The worst fear of death was not of death itself, but the fear of not being mourned properly. Due to blockades and shortages of imports, fabrics and articles were hard to obtain, many women could only mourn in their hearts and not in their appearance. During the Civil War death was so wide spread that many women never came out of mourning until the war was over – if it wasn’t a husband, it could be a son, father or brother.

This fan is in very nice condition with only some very slight separations on the linen – not really noticeable as can be seen in the pictures. The handle and metal closure is near perfect. Original Mourning items have been very difficult to come by – I seen an identical example in Gettysburg last week priced at $225.00.

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