Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Exhibit at the Patent and Trademark Center

If you are reading this, you are probably afflicted with what we might call a touch of intellectual-property-nerdiness. Come on, admit it. Perhaps you admire the effect patents have had on ingenuity and technological advancement in the last couple of centuries. Maybe you're an inventor yourself and recognize the beauty of contributing to the unparalleled body of knowledge that the USPTO's files represent.

Or, if you're like me, you think patents have an appeal beyond the inventions that they describe; that they are a very cool historical record of the times from which these inventions arose. If that's the case, you may be interested in "Patently Beautiful," a new exhibit that will be showing through August at the Patent and Trademark Center in San Francisco Public's Main Library.

Here's the blurb from the flyer:

Patently Beautiful is a look at patents from each decade of the 20th century representing the technological march forward in the world of beauty products. Often familiar and occasionally absurd, these drawings, taken from original United States patents, illustrate the innovation behind the products that have helped define the concept of beauty in the United States in the last 100 years.
Teresa Riordan, author of Inventing Beauty (a work which helped inspire this exhibit) sums up the fun of this exhibit and of all patents:

No small amount of folk are lies hidden in the patent archives, as Siegfried Giedion once observed.

If you're into the idea of seeing an electric hairdryer from the turn of the century, or what a Scrunci is called in technical terms, stop by the library and have a look at the exhibit.

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