The Furniture Maker and The Princess

Once upon a time there was a furniture maker who worked long hours building simple (but well made and beautiful) furniture in his workshop in Putney, Vermont. At the end of every day he would go home and check his email (this was a very tech savvy furniture maker) and delete all the emails he got from Nigerian Princes whose fathers had just died in a car crashes leaving them millions of dollars that they had to get out of their country with the furniture maker’s help.

One day the furniture maker received an email from someone claiming to be a decorator that the furniture maker thought might be from a Nigerian but he wasn’t sure. The grammar wasn’t great and the email was from a foreign country but the email’s author did seem to have a legitimate question: “Could you make your mission bed for a european size mattress?” The furniture maker decided that there could be no harm in answering this question so he replied that he could make the bed in whatever size the customer desired. A week after replying the furniture maker received another email explaining that the decorator was waiting to hear back from his client but that he thought he would certainly be ordering the bed within a week. The furniture maker was still very suspicious that this “decorator” was really just someone trying to somehow steal his hard earned money.

Another week passed and by now the furniture maker had forgotten all about the foreign “decorator”. Then one day when checking his email the furniture maker saw a reply from the decorator saying that he would like to order the mission bed and two mission night tables for his client and that the furniture maker should send the bill for this to:

HRH The Princess of (name withheld for privacy)
The Princess’s Palace
The Princess’s Country

Now the furniture maker was sure he was dealing with someone who was trying to steal his money. After all, why would a princess want his simple (but well made and beautiful) furniture? Surely a real princess could have whatever she wanted for her palace and surely she wouldn’t want his simple (but well made and beautiful) furniture. Knowing now that he was dealing with someone who was trying to steal his money the furniture maker decided that he would see how the “decorator” would try to go about doing this. The furniture maker replied to the “decorator” that for all foreign orders full payment was required when the furniture was ordered. Once the furniture was completed full payment for shipping charges would be required before the furniture would be shipped.

The reply to the furniture maker’s email came quickly: “That is fine and the Princess needs your bank account number.”

“Just as I suspected” thought the furniture maker. They want my bank account number so that they can steal my money. The furniture maker’s reply was short and to the point “NOBODY GETS MY BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER!” And with that the furniture maker decided to ignore any future emails from the “decorator”.

But then the furniture maker received an email from someone claiming to be the Princess’s secretary. She wanted to know how much the shipping costs would be. The furniture maker ignored the email. She email again a week later: “Did you get my first email? We need to know what the shipping costs will be on the Princess’s order.”

“Boy”, thought the furniture maker, “these Nigerians really want my money.” He ignore the secretary’s second email too.

Several weeks passes and the furniture maker forgot all about the decorator and the secretary. One morning, while the furniture maker was working in his shop building simple (but well made and beautiful) furniture, the phone rang. It was a woman claiming to be the Princess of (name witheld for Privacy)’s secretary. She spoke with a foreign accent but in excellent english and was very polite. She wanted to know if the furniture maker had received her emails. She needed to know what the shipping costs would be for the Princess’s furniture. The furniture maker answered that he had not replied because he knew the shipping costs would be expensive and he thought perhaps the “Princess” wouldn’t think it was worth paying that much to ship his simple (but well made and beautiful) furniture. The secretary (who was translating the conversation to another person on her end) replied that she still would like to find out how much it would cost so the furniture maker agreed to get a shipping quote and reply to her email with it.

At this point the furniture maker started to wonder if perhaps the “decorator” was a real decorator and the “secretary” was a real secretary and the “Princess” was a real princess. But how could he know for sure? He decided to contact the consulate in the U.S. for the Princess’s country and ask them if they could help to confirm whether it was the real Princess who had contacted him. The consulated agreed to do this and in a couple of days the furniture maker had the answer: It was, indeed, the Princess of (name withheld for privacy) who wanted to buy his simple (but well made and beautiful) furniture for her palace!

The furniture maker got paid and his simple (but well made and beautiful) furniture is currently on its way to the Princess. Hopefully everyone will live happily ever after.

Moral #1: Not every email from a foreign Prince or Princess is a scam.

Moral #2: Princesses are just like you and me. Sometime they just want a simple (but well made and beautiful) piece of furniture.

Moral #3: I recently received a resume and photos via email from a man in Nigeria who is looking for work as a cabinetmaker. He appeared to be legitimate. It leads me to believe that not everyone from Nigeria is running a scam. I hope he finds a job.

Richard Bissell builds Shaker and Mission Furniture in Putney, Vermont
To learn more about his simple (but well made and beautiful furniture) visit


6 thoughts on “The Furniture Maker and The Princess

  1. Rob Hitzig

    Great story and great lesson about foreign emails. Not everything is a scam. Unfortunately, now I wonder how many millions I lost by way of my over active delete finger.

  2. Vic

    Most of the world considers Americans to be closed-minded, loudmouthed, and fat. But does that mean that all Americans are closed-minded, loudmouthed, and fat?

    No, I'm not Nigerian, but my wife is. Funny thing: most of my Vermont relatives are a whole lot less informed (and educated) than my Nigerian in-laws. (Not all my Nigerian in-laws, though; my wife's great-uncle is an idiot…just don't tell her I said so.)

    The moral of this blog comment:

    1. Don't lump all 140 million citizens of Africa's most populous nation into the same, banal scammer category. I'm SURE you don't think ALL African-Americans are lazy.

    2. #1 applies to citizens of any country (or members of any ethnic group).

    (By the way, it's "Consulate" not "Consolate.")


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