|Phineas Taylor Barnum|
American legend P.T. Barnum is better known for saying ``There's a sucker born every minute.'' A charmingly appropriate legacy, that, since it wasn't he who said it.
In our Archæological Forgeries section, you can read about the Cardiff Giant. A three-thousand pound hunk of gypsum in the form of a ten-foot-tall man that was ``discovered'' on a farm in Cardiff, New York in October, 1869.
Barnum avidly followed the news of the Giant's discovery and the speculations about its origin, and thought it would make a fine addition to his own exhibits. He told the owner of the farm on which the Giant was found that he'd be willing to pay $60,000 (U.S.) to be able to exhibit the Giant for three months. No dice.
By 1871, Barnum was exhibiting the Cardiff Giant anyway - only it was his own Giant. He'd had a replica carved, reasoning that a forgery of a fraud was no crime. He even went so far as to claim that the original, owned by a group of investors headed by David Hannum, was a fake and that the new sculpture was the ``real'' Cardiff Giant.
Hannum sued, but lost - and was quoted as saying of the crowds lining up to see Barnum's phony phony: ``There's a sucker born every minute.'' So that's how the quote got associated with Barnum.
But it's easy to understand the confusion. Barnum was, after all, a man whose career in show business got started with him purchasing and then exhibiting a woman named Joice Heth, who claimed to be the 161-year-old childhood nurse of George Washington.
His gift for catching the public eye was unrivaled. Irving Wallace, in his biography The Fabulous Showman, tells this story of how Barnum created a buzz for his Museum:
The Cardiff Giant
|On This Day in Hoaxstory||August 22, 2000: California Secretary of State Bill Jones issues a press release warning that anyone who uses voteauction.com "is guilty of a felony and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." (See Guerrilla Hacks for more political shenanigans)|