The “curse” of the Wooden Man of Egeskov Castle

We are on the Danish island of Funen (Fyn), near Odense. Hidden among the dusty rafters beneath Egeskov Castle spire is a curious wooden doll. No one knows to whom it belonged, how old the doll is, how long it has been there, or how it came to be left in the dark attic of the imposing 16th-century castle. The dust-covered figure is the size of a child and has been left, as if asleep, on a old pillow. Egeskov Castle is one of 123 manor houses and castles on…

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Burke & Hare Murder Dolls: the mystery of the dolls in miniature coffins

William Burke and William Hare were two serial killers who lived and operated in Edinburgh, Scotland, from November 1827 to October 1828. The duo, with the complicity of their companions, lured in and murdered their lodgers in a scheme to provide fresh bodies to the local anatomy school. Here Dr. Robert Knox, a brilliant and well-known local anatomy teacher, purchased the human remains and most likely knew that something was a bit suspicious about his “supply chain”. They killed 17 people and the crimes were exposed when another lodger discovered…

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Grassy Point Railroad Bridge – Minnesota and its haunting army of decomposing stuffed animals

The Grassy Point Bridge was authorized by the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota in 1887 to cross Saint Louis Bay at the shortest possible location. It was built by the Minneapolis and Duluth Railroad, which was later acquired by the Northern Pacific. The bridge allowed to move trains between their railroad lines on either side of the Twin Ports Harbor. The east end of the bridge connects to the BNSF 28th Street Terminal, and a massive maze of rail yards and side tracks (now mostly gone). The current iron and…

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Aunt Claudia’s Dolls, a collection of unique items that includes the most diverse display of northern indigenous dolls.

After World War II, Claudia Kelsey, a longtime toy collector, moved to Juneau, Alaska with her friend Beatrice Shepard, Bea, to set up a life as an artist. She brought with her a large collection of dolls, figures, and miniatures dear to her that would, after her death, become the beloved gallery in the heart of Juneau known today as Aunt Claudia’s Dolls. Upon Claudia’s death some 60 years after the war, her friend Bea decided the collection, which had amassed more than 800 items, should be put on display…

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Portland Troll Bridge – Oregon

There is a popular story, “Three Billy Goats Gruff”, in which three little goats are trying to get across a bridge, but a troll who lives underneath it threatens to eat them up. They trick him to cross, and all ends well (for the goats, at least). Now that you’re all grown up, you know that trolls don’t really live under bridges. But there’s one bridge in Oregon where trolls actually do live…and it’s really pretty charming! The reason (or the reasons) why trolls began to appear under a bridge…

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Hinnagami: the spirit that possess japanese dolls and grant their owners any wish

Hinnagami are powerful spirits from Toyama Prefecture, Japan, that live inside in dolls. In Japan dolls take on an important meaning, and this is why once they become old they are not thrown away, because an ancient Japanese belief says that inside the dolls there is a soul. Therefore instead of getting rid of dolls used, the Japanese put them on an altar with the utmost respect. The spirit within the dolls is considered evil, as the Hinnagami are spirits that grant wishes to the families that own the haunted…

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The macabre egyptian “Voodoo” Doll, dated back about 3rd-4th Century AD

A binding spell is a magical formula intended to “bind” or restrain a person’s will or behavior. Examples of binding spells include love spells, attempts to silence enemies, or any other magic intended to force or restrain the behavior or actions of another person. Many binding spells involve the use of knots, pins, or other symbolic restraints. In most ancient spells, it is spirits or ghosts who are symbolically “bound” until they fulfill the demands of the spell caster. The binding spell is probably one of the oldest types of…

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Rome: the Doll Hospital where antique dolls are given new life.

We are in a cobblestone alley near the popular Piazza del Popolo in Rome, Italy. Here, a weather-striped window showcases porcelain heads, limbs, and bodies of dolls long lost and completely broken. Above the creepy repository of disrepaired faces pressed to the glass, small owl figurines perch menacingly. No. This isn’t Rome’s own little shop of horrors, but it is actually the Restauri Artistici Squatriti, known to Romans as “l’ospedale delle bambole,” which means “dolls’ hospital”. Here, Federico Squatriti and his mother Gelsomina, who is now over 80 years old,…

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Isla de las Muñecas: the island of the hanged dolls in Mexico.

Beyond the Atlantic Ocean and precisely in Mexico City, there is a place that is decidedly creepy, recently become famous among the explorers of the unknown and the macabre, for the hundreds of dolls hanging from the branches of its trees. This is the Isla de las Muñecas, litterally, the Island of the Dolls. It is so named because of the presence of numerous dolls decidedly “unusual”: they are hanged to any tree, fence or vertical surface of the place and watching threateningly anyone approaching! It is an artificial island…

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Edison’s talking doll which terrified children.

He called them his “little monsters”: Thomas Alva Edison, great inventor and American entrepreneur, is remembered in history as the man who invented the light bulb. Although he was not the first to invent it (he had preceded him since 25 years Heinrich Göbel), and not even directly inventor of the light bulb himself, developed in his laboratories in Menlo Park, had the merit of being able to market it on a very large scale. He registered with his name 1,093 patents (almost all other projects purchased and registered as…

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