The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Burger King's Left-Handed Whopper Hoax, 1998
Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976
Man flies by own lung power, 1934
Prof. Wingard's Death Ray Hoax, 1876
Jernegan's Gold Accumulator Scam, 1898
Tourist Guy 9/11 Hoax, Sep 2001
'Solar Armor' freezes man in Nevada Desert, 1874
Bizarre pictographs of Emmanuel Domenech, 1860
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
The Cradle of the Deep, a literary hoax, 1929
The Death of Titan Leeds
Benjamin Franklin published a highly successful, yearly almanac from 1732 to 1758. He called it Poor Richard’s Almanac, adopting the literary persona of "Poor" Richard Saunders, who was supposedly a hen-pecked, poverty-stricken scholar.

In the first year of its publication, Franklin included a prediction stating that rival almanac-writer Titan Leeds would die on "Oct. 17, 1733, 3:29 P.M., at the very instant of the conjunction of the Sun and Mercury."

The prediction was intended as a joke. Nevertheless, Leeds took offense at it and chastised Saunders (Franklin) for it in his own almanac.

Franklin responded by turning the death of Leeds into a running joke. When the date and time of the prediction arrived, and Leeds did not die, Franklin declared that Leeds actually had died, but that someone had usurped his name and was now using it to falsely publish his almanac.

In the following years Franklin continued to insist Leeds was dead until finally, in 1738, Leeds actually did die. This prompted Franklin to congratulate the men who had usurped Leeds’s name for finally deciding to end their pretense.

Franklin adapted the Titan Leeds hoax from Jonathan Swift’s similar Bickerstaff hoax of 1708.
Related Hoaxipedia article: Benjamin Franklin Hoaxes
Commenting is no longer available for this post.


All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.