; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Friday, February 27, 2015

For Sale: Ed Gein's Ghastly Cauldron

A gruesome artifact, that once belonged to notorious murderer and body snatcher Ed Gein, is being sold at auction:

Amongst the various mundane antiques, the Pientka Auction website contains a photo of a rusted, insignificant-looking old cauldron.

According to the cauldron’s current owner Dan McIntyre, his grandmother purchased the cauldron from the Gein estate sale held in 1958, along with some gardening tools. She painted the cauldron and planted flowers in it as a memorial for Gein’s victims.

The owner says it wasn’t until 50 years later that he learned the shocking reality of the inconspicuous flower pot that ended up in his parent’s garage.

Hollis Brown, a friend of the owner's family, had been a neighbor of Ed Gein’s. After the police had finished photographing the crime scene, they were feeling sick to their stomachs. So he and another neighbor by the name of Howard Lowellyn helped remove the bodies and various remains. It was then that Hollis first saw the black cauldron in a shed, crusted with dried blood and guts beside tubs and barrels filled with what he described as bloody human entrails.

When he saw the cauldron again many years later in the garage, Hollis immediately recognized it. Pale and noticeably shaken, he told his son Carneth about the cauldron, saying that he saw something he had not seen in 50 years. He wished he didn’t remember where he saw it.

The cauldron is listed at Pientka Auction. More information can be found at Ed Gein Cauldron Up for Auction in Wisconsin.

Ed Gein's horrid activity inspired the creation of several film characters, including Norman Bates (Psycho), James Gumb (The Silence of the Lambs) and Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre). He was obsessively devoted to his mother, a religious fanatic. After her death, Gein began robbing graves...keeping body parts as trophies, practicing necrophilia, and experimenting with human taxidermy. He then turned to murder, killing at least two women in 1957.

I almost fell out of my chair while reading this vintage newspaper article. Maybe Ed Gein took lessons from this guy:

'It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again' - Buffalo Bill in 'The Silence Of The Lambs'


Alton Evening Telegraph, Alton, Illinois - 27 February 1907

It is a fact well known to a very few skilled workmen, and not known at all to the world at large, that human skin can be prepared, tanned, and made into durable articles quite as successfully as can the skin of our four-footed friends. You can say over and over again to yourself that there is really no reason why human skin should not be so utilized, and you can be told by the workmen who handle it that there is nothing gruesome in the work; you can reason and argue with yourself about the matter, and try to be “matter-of-fact and sensible,” and still there will be be little shudders running through you and creeping up and down your spinal column at the thought of having the skin taken from a human body and made into some article of wearing apparel.

The only way to overcome this sensation, if you want to overcome it, is to examine some of the articles made from the skin, and you will find that the leather is very much like dogskin or pigskin. Mr. William Hansell, of Philadelphia, has the largest article which has ever been known to be made from human skin. He was particularly fortunate in getting enough of one grain, and succeeded only after a long and systematic search. The article is a beautiful pure white saddle, and anyone examining it would be at a loss to tell the kind of skin from which it is made. When you are told, you realize that the pores show a familiar look; but when you are given a bit of the skin, of which Mr. Hansell has retained a few samples, you are amazed at the thickness. Three layers of skin you know you have, but knowing how easily a needle prick will draw blood, you are astonished to find what a good, thick covering these three thicknesses make. This saddle is made from the skin of one man. A woman’s skin, generally speaking, would be too delicate.

Now, it is not to be supposed that there is a general trade in human leather. Human skin is an exceedingly rare article. Sometimes a physician will have a piece made into a cover for an instrument case, and occasionally medical student get enough to be made into a purse or pair of slippers. Patients sometimes have a bolt or a book cover or some such article made from a limb which has been amputated. It seems a peculiar mind that would take pleasure in “souvenirs” of this order.

The wearing public are not alone in their aversion to the use of human skin for the purposes to which they unhesitatingly put the hides of animals. It is very hard to get workmen to handle the “leather.” Mr. Hansell gave his piece of skin, after it had been tanned, to an old workman who had always made up all his leather goods, and told him to make it into a saddle.

Three weeks the workman kept the skin, and one day he brought the partly finished saddle to Mr. Hansell with question about finishing. “By the way, Hansell,” he remarked as he was leaving, “I wish you would tell me what this skin is. It is the most contrary stuff I ever worked with; it is worse than pig or goat skin.”

Very injudiciously Mr. Hansell informed him that it was human leather. At that the workman dropped the half-finished saddle and left without a word. He never returned, and nothing would induce him to finish his job. Mr. Hansell, after waiting three months, hoping he would change his mind, turned the unfinished saddle over to another workman, but he took good care not to tell him what kind of leather the “contrary stuff” was.

The work of tanning human skin is pretty much the same as the of curing any other skin. Curiously enough, tattooing goes through the epidermis to the under skin, and not a little of the tanning of human skin is done for the purpose of preserving the designs tattooed upon it. Human skin may, however, be tanned with the hair on it, in which case the epidermis is not removed. Scalps so tanned are said to m ake the best wigs known, and because the tanning is done with alum instead of with oils, as is the case with furs and most of the hair covered skins of commerce, the resulting leather is much more durable.

NOTE: Here's a company in the UK that make products from human skin. Also - Top 10 Bizarre Uses for Human Skin. Lon

The Silence of the Lambs [Blu-ray]

Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original Psycho

Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison

Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (R-Rated & Unrated Versions)

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