This lovely piece is truly dual purpose. The oval-shaped elongated shape is reminiscent of hand-coolers of days gone by, but it also sits well to make its use good as a paperweight as well. The colors and abstract design are delightful. The exquisite cobalt blue base looks as if the swirling creation grew from it. The gossamer swirls of yellow and orange add to the effect, and the colors are exciting and vivid. The well-placed bubbles, seemingly random, actually enhance the effect. (We have included some interesting history of hand coolers at the end of the listing.)
Size: 3 1/4" tall.
Condition: Very Good. The expected signs of display wear.
Signed: Not signed.
Hand Coolers can be traced back to the 19th century and the American Victorian Era.
This small, cooled, egg-shaped item originally made of porcelain, marble, glass or crystal and just slightly smaller than an actual egg would be nestled in the palms of Victorian ladies to ward off the possibility of the social humiliation of a wet, warm handshake.
Since extending one's hand was the common gesture for the invitation to dance, hand coolers became invaluable as during that time it was unacceptable for ladies to have hot, sweaty hands. In France during this time period, it was expected that a ladies' hand would be cool and dry when kissed in greeting by an admiring male. This simple fact was made all the more problematic by the fact that women wore layers upon layers of clothing as part of the Victorian Fashions, trapping in body heat. One means of dealing with this social indignity was the hand cooler.
It was also believed that cooling one's hands would help ward off disease and prevent the common issue of fainting from wearing all those heavy clothes. Hand Coolers have become one of the forgotten useful items that fall under the heading of Victorian Decorative Arts and now can only be found as keepsakes.
Unique Collectibles, Antiques and Fine Arts from Around the World
Never the ordinary...unique items chosen over the last 50 years of travel around the world.