Six exquisitely decorated fans, originally owned by Mary Robinson Markle, wife of John Markle, Class of 1880, are now part of the College Archives Memorabilia Collection. Painted leaves of silk, lace, and paper as well as ivory, tortoiseshell, and mother-of–pearl adorn the fans.

Illustrated scenes appear on both sides of the fans, depicting pastoral and mythological settings as well as playful episodes from peasant life and high society. For centuries, the novel feature of this popular ladies’ accessory was its ability to open and close at a touch, thereby providing that essential element of fashion — surprise.