10 of the Most Famous Photo Hoaxes Through History

In the modern age, it’s both incredibly easy to fake photographs (everyone and their mother is a Photoshop expert these days) and relatively difficult to actually pass them off as legitimate for any length of time (no one can hide on the Internet). But it wasn’t always that way. We recently discovered the awesome website Museum of Hoaxes, and we’ve been indulging in the history of fake photographs, from the first faked photo in the 1830s to much more recent attempts. Click through to check out a few of the most famous photo hoaxes in history, and let us know if we missed your favorite (or if you’re a true believer) in the comments.

The first fake photograph

In the 1830s, various inventors raced to perfect the photographic process — you may recognize the name of the clear victor, a Mr. Louis Daguerre. Hippolyte Bayard, however, did not earn the same kind of fame for his own photo process, and decided to express his feelings with this picture, which purportedly shows his suicide. On the back of the photo, Bayard wrote:

The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life….! … He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you’d better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay.

Though it’s as simple as a posed photograph and a misleading “caption,” this folks is the first-ever faked photograph.