A Victorian replica of a two-headed child’s skeleton has been sold for £1,500 to Jonathan Ross’s wife at a new museum of curiosities.
The sale to screenwriter Jane Goldman, who co-wrote the film Stardust, is the most expensive so far at Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors, which opened in Mare Street at the end of last year.
The museum’s mind-boggling treasures have been sourced from all over the world by owner Suzette Field and her business partner Viktor Wynd.
Almost everything in the museum is for sale – including golden pig snouts and a mummified penis.
Suzette and Viktor share a mutual fascination with the weird and wonderful; both have collected stuffed animals and junk-shop gems since they were teenagers.
Suzette, a graphic designer by trade, spent her early years in the US before deciding to finish her education at an English boarding school.
She discovered and bought her first curiosities at flea markets near her California home.
“One of first things I found was a stuffed Victorian otter,” she said.
“I put it in the museum when we opened but I’ve since had to take it home as I’m too attached to it. I couldn’t sell it.”
A recent sourcing trip to South America produced a collection of Peruvian stage-dancing masks that look “almost 1920s in style”.
A set of 19th-century shrunken heads, a macabre favourite with visitors, were also found in Ecuador.
“They used to take the skull out, stuff the head with herbs, sew up the eyes and mouth and then boil them for hours and hours,” said Suzette.
Though the museum often reminds people of a Victorian freak-show, the idea is in fact based on an older concept.
In the 16th and 17th centuries it was fashionable for the nobility in Europe to have a Wunderkabinett, a curiosity room to show off collections of antiquities and natural history to visitors.
The shop also serves as a home for Wynd and Field’s club, the Last Tuesday Society, which organises decadent but intellectual parties and cheeky literary debates.
The club includes events such as talks on the history of swearing and classes on photographing ghosts. It is based on a society started at Harvard University in the 1870s.
The only condition on joining the Last Tuesday Society – which at the last count had 20,000 members – is that “you like what we like,” said Field.
Essentially this seems to mean looking at life in a joyfully eccentric way.
Since the club was formed five years ago it has hosted a stream of fantastical proceedings, including masked balls, séances and annual parties of “exquisite misery”. These involve guests chopping onions and drinking gin while surrounded by dead flowers, with others signing divorce papers and wailing communally – and all on Valentine’s Day.