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Thursday, July 16, 1998 Published at 22:14 GMT 23:14 UK


'Fairy' fakes sell for fortune

One of the infamous 'Cottingley fairy' pictures

Photographs of fairies which were created by a pair of girls in Yorkshire and caused a storm in 1917 have been sold at auction.

Five photographs of the so-called 'Cottingley fairies' were taken by Elsie Wright, 15, and her 10-year-old cousin Frances Griffiths.

They convinced many, including the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who even wrote a book insisting on their authenticity.

[ image: The faked pictures fooled millions]
The faked pictures fooled millions
A film based on the events, Fairytale: A True Story, was released last year.

The photographs, a first edition of the book and other items from Frances Griffiths's collection, were sold at auction at Sotheby's for a total of 21,620.

They were bought by London bookseller Simon Finch, who reportedly plans to sell them on.

Fakes uncovered in the 1980s

The photographs were finally confirmed as fakes in the early 1980s.

The girls, now elderly women, admitted that four had been made using hatpins and cardboard cutouts, though they still insisted one of the pictures was genuine.

The girls' mother was a member of the Theosophical Society, which believes in the supernatural and they soon were brought to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

He was also an ardent spiritualist and arranged for them to be printed in The Strand - a very popular magazine which also published his Sherlock Holmes stories.

The daughter of Mrs Griffiths said: "I wish my mother had been here today to see the sale, she would have had great fun."

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