Hoax photos of fairies, gnome sold for over $36k

Alice And The Fairies was among the photos taken by cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths of themselves with paper cut-outs of dancing fairies and a gnome in the village of Cottingley in 1917. They claimed that the mythical beings were real, and
Alice And The Fairies was among the photos taken by cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths of themselves with paper cut-outs of dancing fairies and a gnome in the village of Cottingley in 1917. They claimed that the mythical beings were real, and fooled even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.PHOTO: DOMINIC WINTER AUCTIONEERS

LONDON • It started as a joke when 16-year-old Elsie Wright and her cousin Frances Griffiths, nine, took pictures of themselves with paper cut-outs of dancing fairies and a gnome in the village of Cottingley in Yorkshire and claimed that the mythical beings were real.

That was in England in 1917 when superstition prevailed and soon news of their photos went viral, fooling even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Over a century later, the black-and-white photos, widely considered to be one of the greatest hoaxes of the 20th century, went under the hammer last Thursday at the Dominic Winter Auctioneers in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, for more than £20,000 (S$36,000) - over 10 times their estimated value, the Daily Express reported.

The fairies photo was sold for £15,000 and the gnome photo £5,400 to UK-based buyers.

"We had so much interest and a bank of about eight phone lines but it was the Internet that carried both away without any of the phone bidders getting their hands in the air," auctioneer Chris Albury was quoted as saying by the Daily Express.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 07, 2018, with the headline 'Hoax photos of fairies, gnome sold for over $36k'. Print Edition | Subscribe