OK, Pittsburgh sleuths and historians, we need your help on this one.
In our photo archive from The Pittsburgh Press, there exists a folder labeled “HOAXES – GENERAL.” It’s a hodgepodge of old pictures with stories of fakery and forgery both, but this one stood out from the rest. It’s hardly even a hoax. More like a foolish practical joke.
It’s a sequence of photographs created September 30, 1960 on an unidentified Pittsburgh street. Anthony Kaminski, photographer for The Pittsburgh Press, captured them — presumably in tandem with a local prankster. Affix a coin to a manhole cover, see if anyone will stop to pick up the shiny object, photograph them failing to do so, repeat cycle.
Good for chuckles in the moment, but in hindsight, it’s really not all that funny. Especially that last image, which is blatantly cruel.
The photos ran in the Oct. 3, 1960 afternoon edition of The Pittsburgh Press, a copy of which has not survived at our office. The microfilm here contains only the morning edition, and so there is no context for why this ruse was perpetrated on unsuspecting pedestrians. The main stories from the morning paper are all about the beginning of the 1960 World Series between the Pirates and New York Yankees — great reading for any Pittsburgh sports fan, but not at all helpful to this quest.
Let’s hear from you: Do you know where and why these images were made? Do you have a copy of that afternoon edition of The Pittsburgh Press?
And, most of all, do you recognize any of those who were hoaxed?