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Mme. Pompadour’s Metric Measure -- April Fool's Day, 1925
Merle Blanc, a humorous Parisian newspaper, laid a trap for André Perate, curator of the Versailles Palace. They sent him a letter, using the aristocratic signature "Madame de Mesnil-Heurteloup," offering to donate a "double decimeter measure in rosewood" once used by Mme. de Pompadour. They suggested it could be placed in the recently reopened Pompadour apartments in Versailles.

Perate hand-wrote a reply, thanking "Madame de Mesnil-Heurteloup" for her gift, but questioning whether the relic was worthy of a place in the palace. He asked if the measure was mounted in leather and bore the Pompadour arms. He concluded by suggesting that she bring the measure to Versailles to allow him to judge its value.

Merle Blanc gleefully reproduced a facsimile of his reply, noting that the learned curator had failed to realize that Mme. Pompadour died thirty years before the metric system was invented. They suggested that they might seek space in French museums "for Napoleon's automobile, a bracelet worn by the Venus de Milo, and an eyeglass belonging to Victory of Samothrace." [The New York Times, Apr 12, 1925.]

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.