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Fans of Dorothy Parker Can Pay to Wear Her Mink Coat

It’s all in the name of preservation

Channel Parker's vicious wit in the coat she wore for decades. (Kevin Fitzpatrick/Kickstarter)
smithsonian.com

Dorothy Parker’s tortured relationship with money is a matter of public record. The famously razor-sharp author often wrote about how hard up she was for money, telling one interviewer that “I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it.” Her mink coat was a reflection of those aspirations—and as Kirstin Fawcett reports for mental_floss, fans who aspire to be like Dot can now pay for the chance to wear a mink coat she once owned.

The coat currently belongs to a private collector, but the Dorothy Parker Society is looking to buy it by way of a Kickstarter campaign, reports Fawcett. President of the society, Kevin C. Fitzpatrick writes on the page that after the society acquires the coat, it will bring it back to New York, professionally clean and store it, and give backers a chance to wear it on special occasions.

Patrons of Parker will then be able to wear the mink at the writer’s famous haunt, the Algonquin Hotel. "The Gonk," as Parker called it, was where she and a motley collection of raconteurs, writers, drunks and friends got together for booze-soaked lunches. Parker is perhaps the most famous member of the Algonquin Round Table, which still plays host to her adoring fans. She also lived there for a time, even trying to commit suicide there with sleeping pills.

Fitzpatrick writes that Parker's mink has her signature embroidered on the lining, and she wore the coat until she died in 1967. She first acquired the mink from J. Lichterman Furs in Philadelphia right around the Second World War. That's when mink coats were still a coveted status symbol for women, who saw them as the epitome of glamour. Mink was among the most expensive varieties of fur, and some advertisers even tried to convince women to buy mink coats as a kind of compensation for suffering through the privations of the war.

Though Parker famously complained about her living as a writer for the many decades of her career, her writing still turns a profit. She donated the proceeds from her estate to the NAACP upon her death; the organization still receives all of her royalties.

So how much filthy lucre will it take to wear her coat? By March 1, you’ll need to pony up $50 or more to join that vicious circle to wear the coat for a moment—donate more and you can take it for a night out on the town. Perhaps while you do so you can remember Parker’s own thoughts about cold, hard cash. When asked about the source of her inspiration, she replied “Need of money, dear.”

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