TWAIN-L Archives

Mark Twain Forum


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Condense Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Russell Smith <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 13 May 1999 11:09:09 -0500
text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (45 lines)
[log in to unmask] wrote:
> In Cooperstown, New York there is a museum that still displays the
so-called > "Cardiff Giant,"

   Sorry I got in on this late as my other email addresses have been
bursting at the seams for the past two weeks....

   Here's an excerpt from a newspaper column I wrote in 1991:

   ...The perpetrators of the Piltdown hoax were never discovered, but
the most amazing hoax of the 19th century, the Cardiff Giant, did have a
motive and an identified perpetrator. In 1866 a tobacco farmer in Iowa
named George Hull decided to play a joke on the town's minister. Hull
became so mad about the minister's belief in Biblical giants that he
resolved to fool people with a giant hoax.

   In 1868 Hull bought a huge block of gypsum and had a 10 foot giant
secretly carved in Chicago. The 3,000 pound statue was aged with acid
and a special spike-studded hammer was used to produce pores on the
giant's surface. Hull had the figure secretly shipped to a relative's
farm in New York where it was buried. The relative casually instructed
his workmen to dig a well and the giant was "discovered" on October 16,

   Hull began to charge admission for people to view what many believed
to be a giant fossilized man. P.T. Barnum offered Hull $60,000 for the
giant. Finally, Hull admitted the true story , but even then well-known
Americans continued to insist it was an ancient fossilized man. German
author Kurt Marek wrote in his excellent book, _The First American_,
that the great essayist Oliver Wendell Holmes drilled a hole into the
ear region and said the figure had marvelous anatomical detail. And the
great writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said the giant was "very wonderful and
undoubtedly ancient."

  The Cardiff Giant, sometimes called the American Goliath, was
exhibited for many years all across America. Finally the biggest forgery
in the history of American archaeology was placed in the Farmer's Museum
in Cooperstown, N.Y.

All the best,

Russell Smith
Abilene, Texas