Friday, 21 May 2010

Weird and Wonderful Objects From The First Ripleys in St. Augustine Florida


I have, on occasion, visited several "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" locations around the globe, but the location in St. Augustine is unique. This was the first Ripleys in a collection of museums started by Robert Ripley.

Robert was an eccentric man and an avid traveler, obsessed with the inner workings of anthropology and archaeology. He took the world by storm visiting far off lands and unblemished territories and cultures. Places like India and the Orient were unconventional areas for the American traveler during the 19th century, however Ripley's obsession drove him to these areas to study the local customs and speak with people in the area.

His favorite location to visit was China, and considering the amount of oddities from that particular country in the museums, it surely shows his passion for the country. Over the years, Robert Ripley collected an amazing collection of oddities and stories that serve to entertain the public even today.
“I have traveled in 201 countries and the strangest thing I saw was man”
— Robert Ripley

Chinese Dragon Ship

This is a "54" inch ship with three dragon heads, modeled after a ship used by Chinese Emperors. The sculpture was carved from a 200 pound block of jade.

The Old Man and the Cherry Tree

This piece of Japanese art was carved from the contorted roots of a cherry tree. The sculpture was acquired by Robert Ripley in 1937 during his fourth trip to the Far East. It was also featured in his cartoon on November 15, 1939 and at Ripley's "Odditorium" in New York City.

The Million Dollar Man

The Million Dollar Man was designed by Jim Shore of St. Augustine Florida from one million dollars of macerated money. I can't tell you how many people were ogling this exhibit at Ripley's, possibly as a new item for an Ebay listing?

The Ferris Wheel

The Ferris wheel at Ripley's is made entirely out of erector sets. This is a 1/12 scale model of the original constructed, if you can imagine that.

The Gem Castle

The gem castle was made in Italy and contains over 2000 semi precious stones including jade, agate, rose quartz, tiger's eye, and malachite. The castle was once owned by the founder of Ethan Allen, Nat Ancell. It had been lost for years until it turned up in an old Ethan Allen warehouse in 1994.

The Shrunken Head

This is just one is a collection of some of the most rare shrunken heads in the world. The process of "shrinking heads" is most common with the Jivaro Indians of Ecuador. 

The FeeJee Mermaid

We are enamored by the idea of deep sea creatures and mythical water beings, so when this item turned up and was believed to be a genuine mermaid, people flocked to see it in person. In 1842, thousands of gullible onlookers paid 25 cents to see this creature that RT Barnum had coined the "Feejee Mermaid". It wasn't until Barnum grew older that he admitted that his mermaid was the "World's Greatest Fake". A monkey head and a fish fused together.

Photos Taken By the Author 

Read More about Wacky Freaks and Treats at Ripley's on my blog Friends Revolution

More Interesting Reads By the Author:




    Kate Smedley said...
    24 May 2010 at 01:51  

    There are some amazing objects here Lauren, I love The Shrunken Head and The Feejee Mermaid. Great post as always.

    squirrelbrigade said...
    26 May 2010 at 08:38  

    I went to this museum as a kid, and absolutely LOVED it! Two-headed sheep, amazing architecture made from toothpicks, art made with human hair, teeth, and fingernails ... I felt like I'd fallen into Fortean Heaven. Don't miss it if you're in the area!!!

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