The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
Did Poe say 'The best things in life make you sweaty'?
Rachael Ray cooks her family and her dog
Monkeys pick cotton, a 19th-century urban legend
Adolf Hitler Baby Photo Hoax, 1933
The Berners Street Hoax, 1810
Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976
The Diaphote, a television hoax, 1880
The damp spot that hoaxed a city, 1912
Tube of liquor hidden in prohibition-era boot, 1920s
The Beheading of Baron Rothschild
During the 1890s reports began to emerge from Bosnia (at the time, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) of peasants, innocent of any crime, surrendering themselves to the authorities with the request that they be beheaded. When the authorities investigated, they discovered that the peasants had heard a rumor alleging that the wealthy Austrian banker Albert Salomon von Rothschild had been sentenced to death for some crime and had offered a million florins to anyone willing to undergo the penalty for him.

Reportedly, syndicates had been formed throughout rural Bosnia for the purpose of sharing the potential prize. Each member promised to sacrifice his life, should his lot be chosen, for the benefit of the other members.

In reality, Albert von Rothschild had not been convicted of any crime, but the Bosnian authorities found it difficult to convince the volunteers of this, and new willing victims kept presenting themselves. In fact, not only had Rothschild not been sentenced to death, but in 1887 he and his wife had been granted the right to be presented at Court. It was the first time a Jewish person had been granted this honor. In 1893 he was awarded the Iron Cross of Merit for his role in Austro-Hungarian monetary reform.

Links and References
  • Walsh, William. (1893). Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities. J.B. Lippincott Company. Philadelphia. 473-474.
  • "A Rothschild Sentenced to Death." (Oct 25, 1890). Lowell Sun.
  • Albert Salomon von Rothschild. Wikipedia.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.