14 July 2018

Mountweazel

Have you ever heard about Lillian Virginia Mountweazel and her passion about mailboxes? You can read about her interesting life on the page 1,850 of the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia:
Mountweazel, Lillian Virginia, 1942-1973, American photographer, b. Bangs, Ohio.Turning from fountain design to photography in 1963, Mountweazel produced her celebrated portraits of the South Sierra Miwok in 1964. She was awarded government grants to make a series of photo-essays of unusual subject matter, including New York City buses, the cemeteries of Paris and rural American mailboxes. The last group was exhibited extensively abroad and published as Flags Up! (1972) Mountweazel died at 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine.
A fountain designer who made a book about rural mailboxes? Oh, how I wish Ms. Mountweazel and her works were real! Because, actually, she is famous for having never existed.
It was an old tradition in encyclopaedias, dictionaries, maps, etc. to put in a fake entry to protect the copyright. An so was Mountweazel: a copyright trap, a fictitious entry composed specifically to note whether persons were copying content without due attribution or royalties. Today, professional editors refer to such fictitious content as a Mountweazel.

(The picture above is from a 2009 exhibition in Dublin,  that explored "the fictitious life and legacy of one Lillian Virginia Mountweazel". And Ms. Mountweazel has a page on Facebook and a memorial society on Flickr...)

7 comments:

  1. I have never heard of this before - what a fantastic story. I love how it now has a life of its own.

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    1. I thought you would know her, as she was born in Ohio... ;-)

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    2. Haha! Not that I know every last name that there is, but Mountweazel is quite suspicious :)

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  2. I agree with FinnBadger, it is new to me (very clever, such a trap, I wonder how we can introduce it to the present encyclopedia: the internet :-) ), it is a fantastic story and interesting how mrs Mountweazel now appears to have come alive. I love all of it, and especially her love if taking photos of postboxes:-) (and such a trap fadcinates me... Inspiring :-) )

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    1. I think that in the Internet iseven easier to catch frauds (But then, sometimes you can't o nothing about!).

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  3. This is so great! It's similar to paper towns on maps. I think you should write a real book on mailboxes.

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    1. That isn't a bad idea... :)

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Thank you for coming. All your comments make me extremely happy.