Open Sauce, 18th Century style

I just accidentally found myself overhearing a short piece on BBC1 about Thomas Chippendale, the celebrated 18th century furniture designer.

Chippendale was very successful and his pieces are now worth a fortune. Intriguingly, the real cause of his success was not his skill as a cabinet maker, but his marketing nouse. And get this, his masterstroke was the publication of his Gentleman Cabinet Maker’s Director. Apparently, this included all his designs for others to freely copy. It made him rich, because all their imitations served to heighten the appeal of his originals.

Heh… and you thought open source was a new idea?

2 thoughts on “Open Sauce, 18th Century style

  1. Michael Wagner

    Johnnie, you are so right. Open source is not a new idea.

    To the story of Chippendale I would add that of Ben Franklin who purposely never patented the Franklin stove allowing others to continuously improve it and grow rich.

    It was his way of giving back to society.

    H.W. Brands has nice passage on Franklin and what he called the “Pennsylvania fireplace” in his biography of Franklin – The First American, pgs. 166-168.

    Always a good corrective to our pride to discover others have been down roads that seem brand new to us.

    Thanks for highlighting the story of Chippendale.

    Keep creating,



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