By David Emery
Netlore Archive: Viral images purport to show the mummified remains of a fairy (also described as a 'butterfly man' or 'moth man') discovered in the Derbyshire countryside of England.
Description: Viral images / April Fools hoax
Circulating since: April 2007
Status: Fake (see details below)
Email contributed by Jacki D., May 9, 2007:
Maybe not anymore but a recent discovery would suggest that they probably did. What appear to be the mummified remains of a fairy have been discovered in the Derbyshire countryside.
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Analysis: BBC News has confirmed that the images and text above were created as an April Fools prank by Dan Baines, whose job is designing "strange and unique" illusions for stage magicians. The story of the mummified fairy's discovery was first posted in March 2007 on Baines' Website, Lebanon Circle Magic Company, where it attracted as many as 20,000 hits in a single day. After confessing to the hoax he sold the fake artifact on eBay for £280. Many people, he says, continue to insist it's real.
The prank calls to mind the infamous Cottingley Fairies hoax of 1917, wherein a pair of young British girls with too much time on their hands concocted fake photographs of tiny, humanoid fairies flitting through the air. The photos were vetted as authentic by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes series, and received an inordinate amount of publicity from a credulous press. It wasn't until 66 years later, in 1983, that one of the girls confessed that the fairy images had been hand-drawn and suspended in the air via hatpins to be photographed.
Baines' work is an outstanding example of what is called "gaff art," the use of taxidermy and prop-building techniques to create realistic-looking sideshow artifacts. One famous example was P.T. Barnum's half-ape, half-fish Feejee Mermaid, which astonished visitors to his American Museum in the mid-1800s. More recent examples, such as Juan Cabana's "Golden Mermaid" carcass, have won fame and infamy thanks to images circulated via the Internet.
More otherworldly discoveries:
• Mermaid Found Washed Up by Tsunami
• Nephilim - Giant Skeletons Found!
• Man Finds Pickled Dragon in Garage
• Giant Snake Found in Red Sea
• The Escherian Stairwell
• Scientist Discovers Winged Spider
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Sources and further reading:
Do Fairies Live at the Bottom of Your Garden?
April Fools hoax by Dan Baines, March 2007
Dead Fairy Photos: A Well-Crafted Hoax
About.com: Paranormal Phenomena, 31 March 2007
Fairy Fool Sparks Huge Response
BBC News, 1 April 2007
April Fool Fairy Sold on Internet
BBC News, 11 April 2007
Last updated: 08/03/13