The New York débutante who invented the brassière in 1914 was paid $15,000 for the patent. In the years since, the invention has made untold millions of dollars for manufacturers all over the world, and at least $15 million for the corset company that bought the patent. The débutante, Mary Phelps Jacob, had an incentive mind and a deep resentment of the corsets that imprisoned women of her time. One night, she and her French maid constructed a brassière out of two handkerchiefs and some ribbon. Her friends liked the idea, but she failed in her own attempts to market the bra commercially.
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