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The April Fool Archive: 1600-1799 | 1800-1849 | 1850s | 1860s | 1870s | 1880s | 1890s
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April Fool's Day in the 1860s
The Purse on a String Prank. (1861)
[Harper's Weekly — Apr 1, 1861]
The Procession of the Animals. (1866) Several hundred people showed up at the gates of the London Zoological Society demanding entrance in order to see the "procession of the animals." However, the Society was closed that day, it being Easter Sunday, and the guard refused to admit them. The members of the crowd insistently showed the guard their tickets and again demanded entrance. The tickets, which had cost them one penny each (considerably cheaper than the usual sixpence admission), read:

Subscribers Tickets—Admit bearer to the Zoological gardens on Easter Sunday. The procession of the animals will take place at 3 o'clock, and this ticket will not be available after that hour.—J.C. Wildboar, Secretary.

The guard explained that the tickets were not valid, and that they were all victims of an april fool's day prank. Upon hearing this, the crowd grew restless, insisting loudly that they had paid their admission and were determined to see the animals of the zoo all walk in procession. Before the situation became out of hand, an extra force of constables arrived and dispersed the crowd.

The Zoological Society investigated the situation and discovered that the tickets had been sold by Mrs. Sarah Marks, a bookseller. The Society pressed charges against her, but withdrew them when she wrote a letter apologizing for her behavior.
Grand Exhibition of Donkeys. (1864) On March 31st, 1864, the Evening Star of Islington announced that a "grand exhibition of donkeys" would be held the next day at the Agricultural Hall. Early the next morning a large crowd gathered outside of the hall. Slowly it dawned on them that they themselves were the donkeys.
Phony Church Meeting. (1866) "A shameful April fool hoax was perpetrated by a lady in Philadelphia, who sent to the pulpit in a Methodist church, a notice of a meeting to be held in aid of another church. Names of prominent clergymen were mentioned as to take part in the exercises. The preacher read the manuscript to his large congregation without hesitation, until he came to a passage announcing that a certain layman would sing a comic song, when he became confused, suddenly remembered the day and abruptly sat down." [The Elyria Democrat — Apr 25, 1866]

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