Fact Check

Did These Mannequins Melt in a Heat Wave?

Won't somebody think of the mannequins!

Published June 30, 2021

 (The Sphere)
Image courtesy of The Sphere
A photograph shows a pair of mannequins that melted during extreme heat in 1929.

In June 2021, as cities across the United States and around the world experienced abnormally high temperatures, a photograph that supposedly showed two mannequins that had melted during a heat wave in London in 1929 was circulated on social media:

This is a genuine photograph of two deformed mannequins that melted during excessive heat in 1929.

This photograph was originally published in the June 1, 1929 issue of "The Sphere," a British newspaper that ran from 1900 to the 1960s. The image was included in a "News of the Week" section where it carried the caption:

"WILTING LILIES: Two wax bathing bells in New Bridge Street register extreme depression owing to the heat-wave. Even human, as well as waxen, beauties have felt apt to wilt in the recent burst of hot weather."

The original newspaper clipping can be seen in the British Newspaper Archives. This clipping can also be glimpsed below via a Tweet from "Yesterday's Print," a Twitter account that collects newspaper clippings and old photographs, in response to a post from "Fake History Hunter," a Twitter account that seeks to correct historical misinformation on social media:

We're not sure of the specific temperature that was reached on the day these mannequins melted, but newspaper clippings from the time noted that London was truly experiencing a heat-wave. Here's an article from Reuters that was published a few days before this melted mannequin photograph appeared in "The Sphere."

This article reads:

Summer frocks and "boaters" on the Paris boulevards are doing honour to a heat-wave in which the city has been sweltering these four days.

Contrary to a prevailing impression, French people are as quick to complain about the weather as British, and the early visitation of summer heat is as much commented on as was the tardy disappearance of winter. A shade temperature of 78 degrees is officially reported for Paris and Clermont-Ferrand, but the Meteorological Office announces that cooler weather is expected.

The heat has been particularly trying at the Auteuil tennis stadium, where the French international Championships are being played, not only for the competitors, but also for the spectators, who can almost feel themselves cooking on stands that come veritable hot-plates under the blazing sun.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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