Ladies hand fans were used for more than just chasing away the vapors and fainting spells. Ladies had an entire form of communication that they could convey just by the positioning of the fan in court. OR DID THEY? It has been said that in the courts of England, Spain and elsewhere fans were used in a more or less secret, unspoken code of messages. These fan languages were a way to cope with the restricting social etiquette. However, modern research has proved that this was a marketing ploy developed in the 18th century (FANA Journal, spring 2004, Fact & Fiction about the language of the fan by J.P. Ryan) - one that has kept its appeal remarkably over the succeeding centuries.