The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Mule elected G.O.P. committeeman, 1938
Tube of liquor hidden in prohibition-era boot, 1920s
Script of Casablanca rejected, 1982
The Berners Street Hoax, 1810
Mencken's fake history of the bathtub, 1917
Boy floats away in balloon, 2009
Use your left ear to detect lies
Taco Bells buys the Liberty Bell, 1996
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
September Morn, the painting that shocked the censor, 1913
18th Century Literary Fakes
The eighteenth century is known as the great age of literary forgery. Fakes poured forth from the pens of writers. A number of factors contributed to this. First, this was the period during which print culture became ascendant over oral culture. Literacy rates rose dramatically. Therefore, it was natural that more people would turn their hands to print-based hoaxes. Second, the keen popular interest in antiquities and history that developed during this period gave forgers a ready market for any "ancient" manuscripts they could produce.

The sheer volume of forgery ironically promoted the advance of scholarship because it forced scholars to improve their analytical skills in order to separate authentic from inauthentic texts. The forgers, in turn, responded by becoming better at faking manuscripts. This "arms race" between scholars and forgers continues to this day. Any improvement in skills or techniques on one side immediately prompts a corresponding improvement from the other side.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.