While today we are all too well-educated by the Internet to believe the canard about the evil mummy from the British Museum sinking the Titanic, a decade before that maritime disaster there was much discussion about the malign coffin board and about other “cursed” mummies, either whole or in pieces. Every visitor to Egypt, it seemed, brought home a lethal souvenir….
“It wasn’t war, it was murder.” Twenty acres of skulls at the Civil War battlefield of Malvern Hill–a memento mori for Memorial Day.
An article about a gruesome experiment with the consciousness of severed heads reminded me of my file of mummified head stories. Here is a cabinet of mummified curiosities–merely because I am interested in the grim and gruesome. An upcoming post will share stories of hauntings involving disembodied heads.
Thomas Perks raised spirits in 18th century Gloucestershire. At first they seemed like benign fairies who sang to him; but then came the terrifying and uncontrollable shape-shifting entities…He was “acquainted with spirits to his own destruction.”
I understand the impulse to save the Odd. I understand Victorian baby teeth made into lily-of-the-valley brooches; the bloody clothing of the Sture men kept as a memorial after their murder by King Erik Vasa; the layette of a dead baby packed away in lavender. I have the contents of my Great-Grandfather’s pockets from the day he died at Black Hill near Mansfield, Ohio while working on the Erie line. So today, in the random order of a cabinet of curiosities, you will find similar “secular relics:” mementoes of war, crime, love, and death.
Black cats, the number thirteen, broken mirrors–these were all objects of ill-omen in the past. But a hoodoo could be any one of a seemingly endless list of persons, places of things including clocks, mummies, ships, and trains. Let us grasp our rabbits’ feet and four-leaf clovers firmly and venture into the world of hoodoos of the past.
The 19th-century reading public was avid for a fortean sensation. Here is a sampling of the News of the Weird from 1895.
The 19th-century papers revelled in stories about falling stars and meteors. Interesting as these are, I am more interested in the human-aerolite interactions reported. There was a silly-season popularity for stories of houses set on fire by meteors or people killed by them. Here are some choice specimens of vintage sky-falls and murderous meteors.
A small collection of possible cases of Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC) from 1829-1884.
Inventors often seem a hapless lot. If they aren’t being blown up by their own patented explosive shells (Samuel H. Mean/Mead-Meigs Safety Explosive Bullet), they hang themselves from their own perpetual motion machines or are found wandering the streets of great cities, hopelessly insane when their creations fail to make them rich….When I ran across the story of the “demented inventor” at the end of this post who devised an elegant and creative method of suicide, I went in search of obscure inventors—mostly Americans–who died at the hands of their better mousetraps.