by Jasmin Grecea on Mon, March 25, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Do you know what the term curiosities means or what it is? Well, we have got a special Brag Blog post for you. Curiosity can be defined as having a strong desire to know or learn something about a strange or unusual object. You might be wondering, what type of objects are curiosities? Couple of weeks ago, I caught up with Rex Young to talk about and view his curiosities collection.
Up until now Rex has been private with his collection from the public due to the fact that most people would think his collection is freighting or scary. Rex feels his collection of curiosities adds scientific value and does not want people to misinterpret him as a person. That is why in the past he has let only privileged people see his collections that share his view and fascination with science and the macabre. Rex is driven to collect because he believes people are generally numb and likes to arouse a sense of wonder and shock;
“I love stories that touch on the morbid side of science and history. A morbid story is the most potent thing you can inject someone with. It hits them on deep emotional levels. The objects in my collection have those kind of stories built into them, so after someone gets the full tour, they’re either emotionally disturbed, or fascinated.”
The main aspect that intrigues Rex to collect is the story behind every piece he has. For instance, he has the skull of a Wildebeest from a Six Flags Great Adventure Safari that had its horns sawed off for safety purposes.
Rex has been collecting these types of objects for 2 years now. His journey began when his grandfather passed away and he had to clean out his house in Maryland. “Every room of that house was packed floor to ceiling with stuff that went back three generations. My great-grandfather had a lot of documents and medical devices left over from when he was physician. Just sitting around in a pile in the bathroom, I found bottles of dangerous chemicals like liquid mercury and even cyanide. They never threw anything out.”
When Rex first started collecting, he would collect everything and anything that intrigued him. Now, he is making room for more valued items, so he sells quite often. However, he does admit he regrets selling a 2 headed Red-eared Slider turtle.
Rex has another 2 headed turtle with six legs and two heads which he received from his friend after it drowned. “This turtle drowned because the two heads disagreed on which way they wanted to swim. This condition is called polymelia, were you’re born with two heads or extra limbs.” He preserves his specimens in formalin or alcohol.
If you are like me, you might be wondering where one would find such things, and is it legal to own? Rex says he finds curiosities through networking with people that share the same interests. It can also be helpful to purchase or trade an item from a collector first to get in their circle. Rex would like to warn people that there are fakes out there called ‘gaffs’. These are usually sewed body parts that can be found by feeling around the bases were it should be smooth instead of stitches. On legal side of things it is perfectly legal to own these items provided they are not protected species. With regards to human organs, if the specimen is antique, it is no longer viable for transplant and some are considered legal to sell. However, don’t take Rex’s word, do your own research or seek legal guidance.
Rex values all of his items equally, but has one item in particular that made my eyes pop and mouth drop. He showed me a cross section of a mummified human head. “It’s about 100 years old. You can still see the taste buds on the tongue, and if you get the light just right the eyeball is still in there.” Rex acquired it from a private collector in Philadelphia. “A lot of the bodies that doctors dissected like this were the corpses of criminals. And it was common to use arsenic to preserve bodies back then. So every time I touch this, I wonder if it’s killing me slowly [laughs].”
A new piece Rex would like to add to his collection is a freak deformed animal. So if you have one of these hanging around you might want to contact him.
One of the most interesting stories Rex told me had to do with an Opium bottle that was found in a Victorian home being remodeled. “The prior occupant was addicted to Opium, and she would devour these medicinal opium bottles. She hid them inside her wall, and when the house was being torn apart, hundreds of these bottles came tumbling down.”
At some point in the future Rex would like to take his collections on tour for a traveling sideshow or museum. Just like Carnivals and Circuses back in the day. It is still done today, but some people feel that putting freaks on display is politically incorrect.
We had a lot of fun during the interview. Rex has a great sense of humor and is an intelligent person with a taste for curiosities. We wish Rex the best of luck with his venture.
Do you have a tast for these types of objects? Let us know below.
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