The Museum of Hoaxes
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A black lion: real or fake?
Mencken's fake history of the bathtub, 1917
Van Gogh's ear exhibited, 1935
'Solar Armor' freezes man in Nevada Desert, 1874
Fake Fish Photos
The Diaphote, a television hoax, 1880
The disumbrationist art hoax, 1924
The Berners Street Hoax, 1810
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
The Case of the Vanishing Belly Button, 1964
Tom Thumb’s Baby
The most famous performer managed by P.T. Barnum was the diminutive Charles Sherwood Stratton, aka General Tom Thumb. 19th-century audiences were enthralled by the sight of him parading around dressed as Napoleon.

On February 10, 1863 Tom married Lavinia Warren, a woman equally small in size. The two then toured together through Europe as husband and wife. To complete the scene of domestic bliss, Barnum often had Lavinia pose holding a baby.

It was claimed that this was the child of Lavinia and Tom, but in fact it was simply an orphaned baby Barnum had provided them with. Because of her size, Lavinia was incapable of having a baby of her own. Unfortunately, as the baby grew it soon began to overshadow Lavinia. Therefore Barnum switched the infant with a smaller one. He repeated this practice whenever each successive baby grew too large for its 'parents.'
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.