Weekend Finds: A Taste for the Unusual

This weekend Tammy and I found ourselves at one of our favorite tag sales. As we peered through the front windows before the sale to get a look at the goods, something in the front window caught our attention and prompted Tammy to say, “I have a feeling we’re going to be leaving this sale with some weird stuff.” She was right.

TurtleThat thing in the window was this old taxidermy turtle. My threshold for creepiness in taxidermy is pretty high, but even I have to admit this thing is a little bit creepy. I think it’s kind of cool. It’s far out of the range of mounted deer heads and trophy fish that I normally run across. There’s something occult and Victorian about it that I’m drawn to. Let’s face it, if you even kind of think you might like a stuffed turtle, the time to buy one is definitely whenever you find one.

Baby-TurtleAnd the time to buy two turtles is when you find two, and so I did. This one should actually be so much creepier than the first; I think it’s a freeze-dried baby turtle. Something about its microscopic size and intricate form, however, just seem to make it fascinating. It came with a tiny bell jar that I didn’t really want, but I think I might have to keep just to protect this little guy from getting crushed or sucked into the vacuum cleaner.

StarfishAnd of course I couldn’t resist a little standard fare sea life, such as this giant 12-inch starfish and empty turtle shell. I don’t know why I’m drawn to seashells, I don’t really even like the beach. The complexity of nature, I guess, has a fairly potent allure that I’ve never grown out of.

But the weirdest find (at least by the standards of most modern-day folks) was tucked into some clothing in the back room.

Monkey-CoatIt’s a rather strikingly exotic late Victorian-era fur coat. What’s so weird about this as compared to any other fur coat, you ask? It’s monkey fur.

Monkey-TagThe fur of the Colobus monkey, to be precise. Monkey fur was popular around the turn of the last century and had surges of popularity in the 1920s and again in the 1930s and early 40s. As the unique look fell out of a favor for shorter furs like mink and ethical considerations came into play, the trade of monkey fur ended. As a fashion item, however, these coats began showing up again in the 1960s as bohemian youth adopted the look from earlier periods.


The most notable thing about the fur is its texture, very similar to that of human hair, giving it a glossy sheen and very distinctive movement when worn. Today these are more fashion history pieces than wearable fashion as the newest of coats would still be about 70 years old and likely somewhat fragile. The look, however, is being recreated today with synthetics and long-haired goat fur.

Worlds-Fair-CompactOn the less weird end of the spectrum was this compact Tammy found for me. Although I initially thought it was from the 1939 World’s Fair, it’s actually from the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens. The excessive wear made it appear much older, but it’s still pretty cool. It fits in well with my growing collection of World’s Fair memorabilia.

Worlds-Fair-GroupOne of my other more tame, but still very cool finds at the sale was this gold plastic bullet planter.

Bullet-PlanterDespite having seen a lot of use apparently outdoors, the paint on the exterior of this planter has held up remarkably well. I will need to repaint the wire legs, but that’s not such a big deal.

HaegarMy last score of the day was the 1960s Haegar planter. I really like the colors and the pattern. And it’s probably a good idea to add some plant life to the house. With all these wild animals about, they’re going to need a little flora for context.

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  1. Susie
    Posted January 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    W-O-W! A monkey coat, now that is an unexpected find. And the turtle, too much, ha. Great finds!

    • Austin
      Posted February 2, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Thanks! You know, I wouldn’t have even known what it was if my mom hadn’t been given one by a collector friend several years ago.

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