10 Famous Fake Antiques and the Suckers Who Bought Them

The Lying Stones of Dr. Beringer
Illustration of fake fossils that Berniger believed to be real, from his book “Lithographiae Wirceburgensis,” published in 1767. © SSPL/Getty Images

At the University of Wurzurg, Germany, Dr. Johann Bartholomew Adam Beringer was a professor of medicine, but he had a special interest in fossils. In 1725, Beringer got his hands on what might have been the find of the century -- three youths had found strange stones, each with an engraving (such as animals, birds, insects, astronomical symbols and Hebraic letters), and offered to sell them to Beringer. He purchased them, and many more the boys continued to find and sell to him over the next several months. In 1726, Beringer published a work entitled, Lithographia Wirceburgensis, detailing 204 of the stones in his collection and presenting a number of theories about the origin of the stones.

It turned out, though, the origin of the stones was nothing more than a forgery. The stones were fabricated, chiseled by hand and sold to Beriginer as a hoax.