Instructive Stories – Wild Turkeys of Schleswig

There are eight American turkeys painted on the walls of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Schleswig, which is odd…because the frescoes were created two centuries before Columbus even crossed the Atlantic.

How did these creatures appear in the medieval biblical scene? Was this proof that the Germans reached America long before Columbus? Or do the birds drawn together tell a different story?

Cautionary Tales is written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It is produced by Ryan Dilly with support from Courtney Guarino and Emily Vaughn.

Sound design and original music by Pascal Weiss. Julia Barton edited the scripts.

Thanks to the Pushkin Industries team, including Mia Lobel, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fein, John Schnaars, Carly Migliori, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Danielle Lahan and Maya Koenig.

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Further reading and listening

The final account of the Malskat case is by Jonathan Keith. Forgery: why fakes are the great art of our age (2012), augmented by Sepp Schuller Counterfeiters, Dealers, Experts (1960).

I learned about this tale from Alice Sherwood. Authenticity (2022).

Bomber Team a date in the raid on Lübeck

New York Times on trial of Lothar Malskat