Snake Oil for Sale: The True Cost of Inaccurate Hotel Photos

The 19th century was arguably the zenith of con-artistry. A traveling salesman would set up a public demonstration to convince the townspeople that snake oil had miraculous properties, or that certain investment opportunities simply could not fail. Often times there would be a shill or stooge — a planted audience member who lent “objective credibility” to the scheme. Using these and other tactics, the mysterious visitors would fill their pockets and leave town.

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