The Cardiff Giant
On October 16, 1869 workmen "discovered" the Cardiff Giant, a ten and one half foot stone statue, on a farm outside Cardiff, New York. As a hoax, the Cardiff Giant has reached grand proportions.
The Giant was the work of George Hull, a man of talent and imagination. Before creating the giant, he experimented with gases and stones in hopes of creating gold through the process of alchemy. Then, in 1866, Hull got the idea of creating a giant and passing it off to the public as a pretrified man.
The creation of the hoax took 3 years and $2600, quite a sum for the time. The actual stone cutting was performed by two sculptors, over the course of three months, using Hull as a model. Once completed, the Giant was shipped to Cardiff by rail and wagon and buried on the Newell farm.
According to plan, workmen digging a well found the statue behind Newell's barn. Friends, neighbors, and passers-by helped unearth the discovery.
Immediately the Giant was placed on exhibit, first for free, then for 50 cents per person. People came by whatever means possible, from all over New York State, especially by train from Syracuse. Three hundred to five hundred visitors came to view the Giant most days. On one Saturday, 2600 tickets were sold.
Cardiff residents capitalized on the discovery by providing hospitality, food, and drink for the visitors and their horses. However, it was Hull who profitted the most. A group of well known and influential businessmen bought a three quarter interest in the Giant for $30,000.
After raising $12,000 in entrance fees at the Newell farm, the Cardiff Giant was moved to Syracuse where it was placed on exhibit. It was quite a boost to the local economy.
By December 1869, the evidence left no doubt that the Cardiff Giant was a hoax. George Hull was willing to confess the truth, but the proprietors were trying desperately trying to prove its validity.
After making the exhibit rounds to Albany, New York and Boston, Massachusetts, the Giant changed hands many times. In 1948 the Giant was purchased and laid to rest at the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, New York.