Fake fairy on tablet screen
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Derbyshire Fairy Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on  27th April 2007

Outline

Message claims that photographs show the remains of a fairy found in Derbyshire, England.

Brief Analysis

The fairy depicted in the photographs is actually a model created in 2007 as an April Fool’s Day prank by UK artist and magician, Dan Baines.

Example

Subject: Do Fairies live at the bottom of your garden?

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.

The 8 inch remains complete with wings; skin, teeth and flowing red hair have been examined by anthropologists and forensic experts who can confirm that the body is genuine. X-rays of the ‘fairy’ reveal an anatomically identical skeleton to that of a child. The bones however, are hollow like those of a bird making them particularly light. The puzzling presence of a navel even suggests that the beings reproduce the same as humans despite the absense of reproductive organs.

The remains were discovered by a local man, who wishes to remain anonymous, while walking his dog along an old Roman road situated between the villages of Duffield and Belper.

Derbyshire Fairy 1

 

 

Derbyshire Fairy 2

Note: Original message included several other photographs of the “fairy” which can be viewed in their original context here.

 

Detailed Analysis

According to the description that accompanies these photographs, they show the remains of a fairy that was discovered by a man walking his dog between villages in Derbyshire, England.

The photographs also circulate without any description and refer to the remains as a “Butterfly Man” in the email subject line.
However, the fairy depicted in the photographs is actually a model created as an April Fool’s Day prank by UK artist and magician, Dan Baines.

Mr Baines placed the images on a website along with a detailed, although entirely fictional, description of the “find”. The website quickly received thousands of visitors interested in the Derbyshire fairy and its author was inundated with emails on the subject.

On April 1st, Mr Baines added a statement to the website, acknowledging that the fairy was a fake. He wrote:

Even if you believe in fairies, as I personally do, there will always have been an element of doubt in your mind that would suggest the remains are a hoax. However, the magic created by the possibility of the fairy being real is something you will remember for the rest of your life.

Alas the fairy is fake but my interest and belief has allowed me to create a work of art that is convincing and magical. I was also interested to see if fairy folklore is still a valid belief in modern society and I am pleased to say that yes it is! I have had more response from believers than I ever thought possible.

The images and selected parts of the description were soon posted on other websites, forums and blogs and also began circulating via email. However, many of the circulating versions did not include the artist’s statement owning up to the prank. The model is of such good quality, and the description so convincing, that many people truly believed that the “find” was genuine.

Humans have long had an intense fascination with magical creatures. Perhaps, deep down, many of us would like to believe that fairies really do live at the bottom of our gardens. The surprising popularity of the Derbyshire fairy suggests that it has successfully tapped into that deep-seated human fantasy. In fact, despite the artist’s public statement, some have refused to believe that the fairy is not real and have even suggested a government conspiracy.

On April 8, 2007 the fairy was sold on eBay for £280.00 and, according to the BBC, went to a  private art collection in the United States.

Hopefully, the sale has provided some manner of closure to fairy lovers around the world. But, be warned, Dan Baines admits that he is now addicted to April Fool’s Day pranks and advises that more may follow.



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer