Top 5 cursed collectibles
What lost souls lurk inside the prized possessions of the living?
They say a ghost is an unsatisfied soul destined to haunt the objects they were associated with in life.
Those objects, once the prized possession of the long-dead owner, are highly sought after by the living today.
Antiques and collectibles are perhaps the best source for those looking to commune with the dead*, so let’s take a look at the top 5 cursed collectibles ever sold.
*Disclaimer: collectibles may or may not be the best way to commune with the dead. Any items bought from Paul Fraser Collectibles that are found to be haunted will no longer qualify for our money-back guarantee.
The Dybbuk Box
An illustration of a Dybbuk by Ephraim Moses Lilien - Image: Wikipedia
The gift that keeps on giving…
In 2003, during a routine estate valuation of an elderly woman’s estate, an antique dealer noticed an old wooden wine cabinet. Considering it of value, the dealer enquired about the woman’s past with her granddaughter.
The woman was a Jewish refugee who had been the sole survivor of her family’s imprisonment in a concentration camp. Intrigued by the item, the auction house owner decided to take it with him, yet was surprised by how keen the relative was to get rid of it.
He took it back to his shop, but was instantly met with flashing lights, smashing light bulbs and oddly, the smell of cat urine. Thinking nothing of it, he then gave it as a gift to his mother.
She promptly had a major stroke, spelling out the words “HATE” and “GIFT” on her deathbed.
The dealer then attempted to give it away to more of his friends/enemies, all the while suffering from a recurring nightmare and seeing strange, shadowy figures looming in his peripheral vision.
So what was in the box?
A statue engraved with the Hebrew word "Shalom", locks of blonde and brown hair bound with cord, a dried rose bud, two 1920s pennies, a wine goblet and a candle holder.
According to its current owner, the box also contained a malignant spirit known as a Dybbuk.
Well known in Jewish folklore, the spirit can possess its owners once released, and past victims have reported everything from dickey bellies to coughing up blood.
The story of the box has since been made into a film – The Possession by legendary horror director Sam Raimi.
The Woman from Lemb
The Woman from Lemb - Image: Tumblr
The female of the species…
Archaeology was once a popular pastime with British aristocracy, with dozens of toffs setting out in search of the empire’s treasures. One such individual was Lord Elphont, who returned from Cyprus with a 3,500 year old statue of a fertility goddess in 1878.
Picked up in Lemb, the statue was put on display in the Elphont family home. Within six years, all seven of them had died.
Several years later, the piece was bought by Ivor Manucci and Lord Thompson-Noel and what happened to them and their families? Yep, dead as a doornail within a few short years.
Sir Alan Biverbook and his offspring were next, before his two remaining sons had had enough, and gave it to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh, where it is still on display.
However, the statue managed to kill a curator before it was put under glass, never to be touched by human hands again.
Queen Alexandra of Denmark wearing the Koh-i-Noor, which didn't kill her until her 80th year - Image: Wikipedia
One of the world’s biggest diamonds, the Koh-i-Noor, is also one of the world’s most haunted items.
Apparently, the 105-carat diamond was stolen from the Hindu god Krishna triggering a curse on all of its royal owners.
It was responsible for the bad luck of 16th century Mughal emperor Humayun, as well as the death of his successor Sher Shah Suri. However, its curse appears to be limited to those who actually wear the diamond, with Humayun’s son surviving after he made the wise decision to lock it away.
Shah Jahan, creator of the Taj Mahal, wasn’t so smart, greedily taking it from Akbar’s treasury. He died, as did his son Jalal Khan.
The diamond doesn’t seem to have the same regicidal effect on Queen Elizabeth II, who has it mounted in a crown that’s part of her Crown Jewels. That said, she has never actually worn the crown, with her now-dead* mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon donning it for her coronation.
*It probably wasn’t the Koh-i-Noor that killed the Queen Mother. She lived to the ripe old age of 102.
**Maori masks **
The misogynistic masks don't bother with men, only pregnant women - Image: Wikipedia
According to legend, a warrior who died in battle would leave his soul attached to a mask he had carved himself. Unfortunately, the misogynistic masks are said to steer well clear of men, but become harmful to any pregnant or menstruating woman that touches them.
This is obviously a very serious threat, as the Te Papa museum in Wellington felt the need to warn its employees not to touch the masks it has on display. Apparently, some concerned members of tribes across the island had imposed the condition on to the museum.
Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s minister for arts, culture and heritage, told the Telegraph: "It's an advisory but it is for people to make up their own minds."
They may have been right in their caution: in 2007, a Maori woman drowned after her relatives tried to exorcise an evil spirit they believed had possessed her.
The Basano Vase
This is the only known image of the Basano Vase, supposedly from an Italian newspaper of the period - Image: Whatculture.com
“Beware…This vase brings death” was the message discovered inside a 15th century Italian silver vase in 1988. But silver of this age is worth a buck or two, so it’s owner naturally discarded the unpleasant note, and sold it at auction for the slightly disappointing sum of $2,250.
It was the start of the vase's second reign of terror. Legend has it that the vase was made for a young bride who was murdered on her wedding day. As she died, she clung on to the vase, a beloved gift on her special day.
It was then passed through her relatives, snapping off entire branches of the family tree like twigs in the wind. Unsure of what to do, the vase was given to a priest, who apparently buried it along with the creepy note.
Perhaps a full explanation of the curse and its effects would have been a more useful deterrent, but this priest obviously had a penchant for the dramatic.
After its sale in 1988, it was bought by a local pharmacist, who died within three months. Then, it passed to a doctor, followed by an archaeologist, both of who died early.
One owner simply lobbed it out of a window, hitting a policeman on the head as he did so. He took the telling off, but refused to take the vase back into his home.
The police offered it to several museums, but none was willing to accept it. The Italian press have suggested it was placed in a lead coffin by the police and buried in an ancient cemetery – not a smart move considering graveyards are constantly being dug up to make way for new clientele.
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