Press: Spider Story

In the 1890s reporter Ralph Delahaye Paine, famed young Yale rowing man breaking into journalism on the Philadelphia Press, was inspired to perpetrate a monumental hoax. With rich detail he told readers about one Pierre Grantaire who made a good living by raising and selling spiders for the spurious cobwebbing of wine bottles. After visiting the "spider farm" on Lancaster Pike outside Philadelphia, Reporter Paine said that 4,000 spiders of the species Nephila plumipes (who spun the "finest webs") were busy working for M. Grantaire, that he shipped them to customers in "little paper boxes, so many dozen in each crate."...