Automatic Clutch - Hand-made Collage

When in Philadelphia one must really set aside an afternoon to visit The Museum of Mechanical Catastrophes. The exhibits serve as wonderful cautionary tales for any would-be inventor. The special exhibit, Life & Limb: A History of Bodily Harm and Liability Insurance was worth the price of admission alone. My only regret is that I did not see it before that unfortunate business with my patented hair toaster.

For those with big dreams but little mechanical aptitude the Hall of Bad Ideas is a must see. Among the various dubious and dangerous equipment none is quite so impressive as Olaf Lagerfeld's Automatic Clutch Purse. A mediocre auto mechanic with a secret ambition to become a fashion accessories designer, Lagerfeld built a diesel fuel handbag that required strenuous cranking just to engage the engine. Why Lagerfeld decided to automate the simple process of opening and closing a purse is beyond my understanding, but as my electric submersible heated bubble bath dispenser proved, I am no one to criticize the inventions of others. Lagerfeld's automated accoutrement was introduced in Gdansk amid much fanfare and plumes of diesel exhaust. The bags were all the rage that week until a defect in the clutch (not the purse, but the mechanical gear switcher) caused the bag to slip gears, lurch, and snap shut with force great enough to take off a woman's arm (in fact Lagerfeld lost a class action suit involving twenty-seven claimants who lost limbs that week).

This is just one of the many fascinating things to be learned at the museum. Purchasing ear plugs and safety goggles before your visit are highly recommended.