February 23, 2009

the sincerest form of theft

I think the first time I heard the expression "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" it was from my mom. I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and someone else had the audacity to show up at recess wearing princess leia buns. Didn't she know that there could be only ONE princess leia at selkirk street school and clearly it was ME? I still get hot under the collar thinking about it all these years later.

Imagine how Thomas Lee must have felt back in the winter of 1903 when he took pity on local carpenter Harry Bunnell by offering up his chair design to help the carpenter earn a few bucks . Lee figured Bunnell could use his design for a summer chair to make a couple of pieces to sell locally in the town of Westport, NY where Lee owned a summer home. Recognizing a good thing when he saw it, Bunnell wasted no time taking the design straight to the nearest patent office and lo and behold the Bunnell Westport Plank Chair --aka the adirondack chair -- was born. The carpenter did quite well for himself, continuing to churn out the chairs for the next few decades. Today, an original Bunnell chair will fetch a tidy sum - just ask Leigh Keno of antiques roadshow fame.

If there are any collectors out there willing to pay a particularly tidy sum for a rocking chair version stamped 1922, please feel free to contact me. As it happens, there's one in my living room - I'd never dream of selling it of course (wink wink) but you can catch a glimpse of it in this polaroid from my "explorations in ennui" series a few years back.

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