Barnum would notice that at many of his attractions people would linger too long at his exhibits. Time is money, and gawking people could and would hold up others that wanted to see the exhibit. Playing on words and ignorance, PT Barnum erected a sign that said this way to the egress. Obviously egress means exit, but not many people actually knew that, and would go through the door expecting to see another display. To their amazement, they found themselves outside, with plenty of the exhibit still remaining unseen.
So here we now have two outcomes that are of benefit for the enterprising PT Barnum. Firstly, by tricking his patrons with an honest, but misleading sign, he has moved the queue along. Secondly, if they wanted to see the rest of the display, they had to pay a second time. Brilliant.
PT Barnum was known to play the odd trick on the unsuspecting public. On another occasion, he advertised a display of the body of a mermaid, with the voluptuous bare breasted body of a human and the tail of a fish. This attracted huge crowds who just ended up seeing the head of an ape that was sewn onto the body of a fish. Clearly a mermaid should have rung bells, and the blatant lie that was a poor attempt a macabre zoological stitch up earned him a reputation as a sharp-witted hoaxer.
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