Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Unfolding Pictures: The Royal Connections Fan, 1794

"The Royal Connections Fan"
Paper Leaf with Boxwood Guards and Sticks
The Royal Collection
What was a Royal lady to do to pass the time? Sometimes life in a palace can be surprisingly dull, it seems. And, so, the ladies of the Royal Family, turned their attentions to creating little games for themselves. Since card games were a proper pastime for a noblewoman, Princess Elizabeth and the Duchess of York (the daughter of George III and the wife of Frederick, Duke of York respectively—see below for their “baby picture”) concocted a new card game of their own which they called “Royal Connections.” Of course, “Royal Connections” became the height of fashion and was quickly added to the game list of anyone in the uppermost pinnacle of London Society in 1784.

I can’t quite figure out how the game was meant to be played, but the rules and aims are all spelled out on this novelty fan. What a convenient way to be fashionable and to have access to the guidelines for the game! This fan was produced by Stokes, Scott and Croskey of London, who were, curiously, not fan makers, but, rather silk-weavers. How or why they got into the business of making novelty fans for a period of about six years remains something of a mystery.

This fan was created for use by high society ladies in 1794. This example was purchased, later, by Queen Mary for her collection, and was largely forgotten until it was rediscovered at Frogmore House in the 1970’s.

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