Top 5 April Fools in history

Posted on April 1st, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

 
Search The British Newspaper Archive for the words ‘April Fool’ and you’ll find hundreds of examples of ‘hilarious’ pranks that were staged on 1 April in the past. We’ve selected our favourites for you to enjoy.

 

WW1 football ‘bomb’

A ‘bomb’ was dropped on German troops during the First World War. After scrambling to take cover, the men discovered it was actually a football with the words ‘April fool!’ written on it.

A football is dropped as an April Fools joke during WW1

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Coventry Evening Telegraph – Friday 16 April 1915
Image © Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

Turning water into wine

On 1 April 1878, the New York Graphic announced that Thomas Edison had invented an amazing new machine. The invention was said to turn water into wine and earth into food.

Thomas Edison allegedly invented a machine to turn water into wine in 1878

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Western Gazette – Friday 03 April 1914
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

 

Giving birth to rabbits

While this hoax didn’t happen on April Fools’ Day, it was definitely one of the strangest pranks of all time. In 1726, Mary Toft tricked doctors into believing that she had given birth to nine rabbits.

Mary Toft convinced doctors that she had given birth to rabbits in 1726

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Ipswich Journal – Saturday 12 November 1726
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Singing loud for all to hear

A supporting actor was once persuaded to sing loudly during the female star’s love scene. According to this article, the more the audience yelled the ‘louder he tra-la-la’d’.

Nina Boucicault's performance was drowned out by an April Fools Day joke

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Northants Evening Telegraph – Saturday 13 April 1901
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Great wasp swarm

Hundreds of New Zealanders stayed indoors on 1 April 1949 after a radio station announced that a mile-wide wasp swarm was heading towards Auckland.

A mile-wide wasp storm was reported on April Fools Day in 1949
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Evening Telegraph – Friday 01 April 1949
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.