Tag "hoaxes"
World’s Wackiest Wits (Jan, 1954)

Being “syruped and feathered” looks absolutely horrible.

The Russian uniform hoax happened in October 1948.

World’s Wackiest Wits

Gagsters have been kicking us around for centuries. Some of their pranks are funny—some not so funny.

By I. B. Neer

THE hour was a few minutes past eleven on a fine Spring evening on the Cornell University campus. Most of the students were lounging in dormitories and fraternity houses when suddenly an urgent voice broke into a broadcast of radio music: “Stand by for a news bulletin.” A pause, then: “Russian planes have bombed London and Marseille. A flight has been sighted over Newfoundland.”

Listeners all over the campus were shocked into silence. Music continued to play and, in a moment, the crisp voice interrupted again: “Enemy planes are now flying over the U.S. Prepare for bombing attack!”

The “Moroccan Princess” Who Had the Laugh on London (Nov, 1959)

She doesn’t seem to have made a huge impression, at least that I can find online. There is a reference in a publication called Theater Arts and one called Hispano Americano, but Google isn’t allowed to actually show the full content.

The “Moroccan Princess” Who Had the Laugh on London

A masquerading model, a pot of murky makeup and London got a royal ribbing.


“–UNDER ANY LIGHT. She looked divine under any light—that dark, coppery skin she has . . .” The gentleman sighed reminiscently and toyed with the handle of his umbrella.

“Yes . . .” His companion nodded. “She was beautifully built, y’know. Legs—”

“Did you—” The first gentleman expressed shock.

“Hardly. Couldn’t imagine trying. It’s—well, it’s seldom you meet someone so—how shall I say—regal in the true sense of the word.”

“At any rate, she’s no longer with us, the princess. Pity,” Umbrella said. Both speculated silently for a moment where the princess could have gone.


The Cardiff Giant currently resides at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY while Barnum’s copy is at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Michigan.

Oh,  and Barnum didn’t say “There’s a sucker born every minute”.  That was actually a quote from a competitor after Barnum created his own Cardiff Giant.

If you’ve never actually listened to the Mercury Theater broadcast of War of the Worlds you can stream it or download it at the Internet Archive

The saga of the  bogus John Wilkes Booth mummy (actually a chap named David George) is told in a story of 7 parts here.


By West Peterson

THE awful calamity of ferocious beasts hunting human prey in the streets of New York after breaking out of the Central Park Zoo panicked the entire city one gloomy Monday morning back in November, 1874. The highly esteemed New York Herald revealed the grim details of the “catastrophe” in the full-page story you see reproduced here.

“Another Sunday of horror has been added to those already memorable in our city annals,” the Herald announced in a dramatic report on the Zoo break. “. . . We have a list of forty-nine killed, of which only twenty- seven bodies have been identified, and it is much to be feared that this large total of fatalities will be much increased with the return of daylight. The list of multilated, trampled and injured in various ways must reach nearly 200 persons . . . Twelve of the large carnivorous beasts are still at large, their lurking places not being known. . . .”

Antique Mechanical Computers – Part 2: 18th and 19th Century Mechanical Marvels (Aug, 1978)

Be sure to check out Part 1.

Antique Mechanical Computers Part 2: 18th and 19th Century Mechanical Marvels

Dr James M Williams
58 Trumbull St
New Haven CT 06510

In “Part 1: Early Automata,” page 48, July 1978 BYTE, we traced the development of antique mechanical computers up to the middle of the 18th century, and described such devices as Vaucanson’s mechanical duck. Now we continue with a discussion of talking, writing and music playing automata of the 18th and 19th centuries. (The discussion is not meant to be an exhaustive one, of course, since that would be beyond the scope of this series.) Later Automata.

Scientific Frauds (Jan, 1932)

Sadly these quack cures are still ridiculously popular.

Also, despite all of his fantastical ideas, Hugo Gernsback was an excellent debunker.

Scientific Frauds


IT would seem that, in this enlightened age, the public should be sufficiently educated not to fall prey to the multitude of scientific quackeries which still abound.

With the public pretty well accustomed to science, there would seem to be no excuse for these latter-day swindles which are still being practiced all over the country; but, strange as it may seem, there is still a great amount of business being done by various individuals and companies who make a specialty of thus exploiting the public.

Simple Tricks for April Fool Jokesters (Apr, 1932)

Simple Tricks for April Fool Jokesters

Anything in the way of a joke is excusable on April Fool’s day, but your tricks have to be original if they are to bring a laugh. The main thing is to take your unsuspecting victim by surprise, and for that these simple stunts sure fill the bill. Not only will they do duty on April first, but they will also liven up any party when things get dull.

Manpower Flight Greatest April Fool Joke (Jul, 1934)

Manpower Flight Greatest April Fool Joke

PHOTOGRAPHS of a man flying through the air by his own power, the dream of scientists for centuries, completely fooled outstanding U. S. newspapers recently.

Captions on the photographs, coming from Germany, explained that Pilot Erich Kocher took off with a pair of rotor wings strapped to his chest. Kocher supposedly blew into a box which converted the carbon dioxide of his breath into fuel to operate the rotors. The turning rotors developed a vacuum ahead pulling the man through the air.

Scientific Hoaxes that Have Fooled the World (Dec, 1931)

Scientific Hoaxes that Have Fooled the World

A FEW years ago the learned world was startled to hear of the discovery near the hamlet of Glozel, France, of a quantity of baked-clay tablets inscribed with the letters of an unknown alphabet, pronounced by some authorities to be the most ancient specimens of writing thus far brought to light.

These and other objects supposed to have been found with them were the subject of a prolonged controversy among archaeologists, but an international commission of experts appointed by the French government finally pronounced them to be forgeries. Thus the Glozel affair took its place among the most famous hoaxes of all time.

Invisibility At Last Within Grasp of Man (Oct, 1936)

Something tells me Modern Mechanix got scammed on this one. My guess is the two Hungarian guys got some investment funding and then vanished into thin air along with the cash.

Invisibility At Last Within Grasp of Man

by A.L. White

Two Hungarian scientists solve age-old quest with devices worthy of Arabian nights wizards.

SUPPOSE that out onto a stage come eight chorus girls performing an intricate dance. Gradually something seems to happen, the heads, faces, and upper parts of the bodies of the girls seem to be disappearing. In fact, little by little they do become invisible to the audience until at last only eight pairs of legs are seen gracefully skipping about on the stage in perfect rhythm. You rub your eyes and begin to think you’d better see an oculist right away, but while you are worrying about it, back into your vision come the eight girls, wholly there and dancing gaily as though they had not just given you the shock of a lifetime. Or suppose again that a girl is sitting atop a piano, singing. The piano begins to fade from sight; finally the girl is left sitting in midair, nonchalantly swinging her feet and blithely singing, as though her perch was perfectly substantial.

This Man Has X-ray Eyes! (Aug, 1949)

This Man Has X-ray Eyes!

By West Peterson

I picked up a piece of chalk, walked to the blackboard and scribbled “Mechanix Illustrated.” Kuda Bux, the Indian mystic, accepted the chalk from me and wrote the title of this magazine again. Not only that, he copied my handwriting.

“You shouldn’t forget to dot the i,” he admonished.

I pulled a dime out of my pocket and held it in the palm of my hand.

“You want to know the date—yes?” Bux said. “It’s 1939.”

“Okay,” I said. “See if you can read this.”