Auctioneers sell all kinds of items at auction every day, including items of a strange nature.
We asked the members of the National Auctioneers Association about the strange items that have come across their auction blocks. From the creepy to the cool, here’s what they told us.
The strangest items sold at auction are largely historical and collectible in nature. The items’ interesting stories pull at collectors’ pocketbooks, and sometimes no price is too high for a one-of-a-kind piece.
- A pair of Civil War diaries
- 1890s hand operated fire pump still in the crate
- Broken outdoor thermometer (with advertising)
- An abandoned 1962 Studebaker Lark
- Program from NASA’s first Lunar Ball with every astronaut’s signature
- A house made from Civil War tombstones
- The original casting mold of a statue of Thomas Jefferson
- A juniper bow made and signed by Geronimo
- A portion of a NASA space capsule
- A railroad car that was a bank branch
- World record North American elk antlers
- The rear half of a fox body Ford Mustang
- An original life ring from the USS Arizona (only authentic one known to exist)
- The actual flag captured from Saddam Hussein’s castle. Two business men bought it and returned it back to the US soldier who had captured it and brought it to a veterans’ fundraiser.
- Meteorite collection
- Two-hole outhouse
- Dinner with an astronaut who walked on the moon
The second largest category of strange items sold at auction are macabre in nature. The interest humans have in items that deal with death or injury is evident here. In fact, coffins topped the list of the strangest item sold by auctioneers—bones or no bones.
- Coffin including bones
- A funeral home including caskets, body props, and all the items you can imagine.
- A skydiving experience with a cemetery plot
- Someone’s ashes
- Old West style coffin (the kind with a glass display front) and it was occupied
- The grinder with chainsaw blade that severed a clients tendons in his arm.
- A mummy
- Mummified 3rd-2nd Century arm piece with bracelets
- A casket that the purchaser put a Chevy engine and running gear in, and made a one-seat hot rod
- A suede Carolina blue coffin
Both macabre and historical in nature, these strange items attract buyers from the medical field and beyond. In some instances, auctioneers contribute greatly to the public health arena. From PPE in 2020/2021 to condoms at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
- Vintage baby incubator
- A urethral dilator set from the 1950s sold to a urologist
- A medical bleeder
- A centrifuge
- Lab mice
- A glass eye
- Thousands of cases of condoms at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic
- Enema cadaver mannequin in a suitcase
Who really knows what attracts buyers to strange items like these oddities—perhaps curiosity, perhaps their one-of-a-kind nature.
- Elephant manure
- Mummified opossums
- Human teeth
- Stuffed taxidermy penguin
- Baby taxidermy alligator posed and dressed in dolls clothing
Sometimes strange items sold at auction are larger than life. From large transportation to entire towns, anything is possible at an auction.
- An entire town in Iowa
- Half interest in a farm—the other half was owned by an estate with 30+ heirs, some receiving 1/200th interest in the estate
- Middle Island, Ontario, Canada, in the middle of Lake Erie on the Canadian side of the border
- Lottery winner’s lifetime winning prize, $10,000/year for as long as he lived
- A cave (real estate auction)
- Oil refinery
Animal- or food-related
Auction items can be practical in nature, but they can also be downright strange.
- Cat litter box with contents
- Lobster compost
- Ant farm
- Schweiss Chicken plucker
- An ostrich while he was pecking at the microphone
- Open bottle of wine half drunk from the school principal’s table
- Paper plate for $22,400
- Half-eaten dessert for $700
Finally, we come to the category with strange items that fit nowhere else. While they might not make sense to us, they were worth every penny to the buyer, and we call that an auction job well done.
- “Absolutely nothing” for thousands
- Uncontested divorce
- Two container loads of bras
- $1 bill for $3,000
- Sweaty bandana for $800
What strange items have you sold or purchased at auction? Let us know below!
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