How P.T. Barnum Ripped Off Another Man’s Giant And Got Away With It

Posted by Justin on February 28th, 2011

Skitched 20110228 155953

They are represented in myth, legend and even religion for centuries, but what happened to our fascination for giants? While other cryptids bask in our attention, the lumbering behemoths haven’t had a spot in the cultural sunshine in decades.

But yet, there was a time in this country when folks would flock from miles around to get a glimpse of proof this curious creatures existed. Even if the evidence was completely manufactured.

In the 19th century, facsimiles of giants and petrified humans captured the public imagination at sideshows. The most famous of these fakes was the Cardiff Giant, a 10-foot-long, 3,000 pound block of gypsum that was sculpted to look like a fossilized man and was exhibited in upstate New York in late 1869. The Cardiff Giant was the brainchild of tobacconist George Hull, who was inspired by the Nephilim of the Book of Genesis to create his oversized hoax.

The Cardiff Giant was so popular it was blatantly copied and recreated by the Patron Saint of this very site P.T. Barnum. Hull was so incensed by ripoff and attempted to sue Barnum. However, he ran into legal issues when he realized he’d have to vouch for the authenticity of his giant to claim damages.

[io9]

  • Dereckc1

    One of my favorite stories, P.T. Barnum displays a fake statue of a fake statue, doesn’t that make it more real than the original?!?

  • http://twitter.com/RC6750 Ryan Crutchfield

    Indeed! Actually Mark Twain wrote a short story about this where the ghost of the Cardiff Giant got confused and ended up haunting the fake (as opposed to the original fake) giant.