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:
- Mega and Giga Coasters: World's Scariest, Highest, and Fastest Roller Coasters @Trifter
- The Ripley's World Famous Redwood Log House @ Friends Revolution (My Everyday Interesting blog)
- The Capela Dos Ossos in Evora Portugal: The Chapel of Bones @Trifter
- World’s Most Famous, Largest and Magnificent Ferris Wheels @Quazen
- Serial Killer Jane Toppan @ Friends Revolution
- Ed Gein The Wisconsin Grave Robber and Butcher of Plainfield
- The Infamous and Bizarre Vampire of Brooklyn Albert Fish
- The Bizarre and Twisted Evolution of HH Holmes Castle of Horrors
- The Happy Feet of The Blue Footed Booby Bird @Scienceray
- World of Rarities: Bizarre and Beautiful Species Found in Nature @Scienceray
- Historical Weaponry in St. Augustine @The Ancient Digger (My archaeology site)