A charming glimpse into frivolous Edwardian literature and society is the small chapbook (a cheap publication intended to be thrown away) titled New Book of Flirtations: No. 18. Containing the Language of Postage Stamps All the Secret Signs, Insinuations, Invitations and Captivations, Also the Art of Flirting with Cane, Fan, Handkerchief etc. Also The Language Of Flowers And Autograph Album Verses, published in 1913. This little book gives the reader some very detailed instructions and insights for young ladies and gentlemen in matters of the heart.
This little magazine details the motions and meanings of flirting with your handkerchief. For e.g., drawing a handkerchief across your eyes means that I am desirous of an acquaintance. While twirling the handkerchief in the left hand means “I wish to be rid of you”; flirting the handkerchief over the right shoulder means “follow me”. To flirt with a pencil, one twirls the pencil in the left hand to say ‘I wish to get rid of you’, drawing the pencil across the cheeks means ‘I love you’; placing the pencil on your right shoulder means ‘you may speak to me’. For students who regularly use pencils for writing, be cautioned that holding a pencil between the teeth means that you are “too willing”. There are many other forms of silent flirtatious communication that are detailed in this volume such as with a glove, parasol, or fan. Further pages include poetry, matrimonial suggestions, the cure for bashfulness, language of jewels, etc.
Among these teasing little tidbits is also a page of step by step instructions on how a gentleman should kiss a lady.
If you are curious as to the other forms of 1900s flirtation and dating advice, the volume is held at the University of Tulsa’s Special Collections in McFarlin Library and is available to view Monday-Friday 8-5pm.