{STYLE WISE} – 1940s Metropolitan Treasure Hunters

On four summer days in August of 1949, treasure hunters from across the globe gathered for the auction of the estate of Robert Ripley, famous cartoonist and collector of rare oddities.

With over 80 million readers of his famous Believe it or Not! series, it was rumored Robert Ripley received more mail than the President of the United States of America.So when the chance to rummage through the eclectic collection of this eccentric media tycoon in a public auction came, the treasure seekers all made their way to New York City!

Many treasures were up for grabs, some mundane, but others wildly fascinating and strange. Only someone with a real {EYE} could truly appreciate some of these remarkably unusual treasures – medieval torture devices, caskets, knives, and shrunken heads!

Most of the pieces were purchased by John Arthur, an entrepreneur from New York City, who then opened the first permanent Ripley’s Believe it Or Not! Odditorium in San Fransisco, California.

This, however, did not stop the other wildly fascinating visitors who sought a chance to own something remarkable and rare from the collection. Each day was just as full as the last, and lucky for us, photographer Ralph Morse shot the auction’s comings and goings for LIFE Magazine.

We are delighted to share some of these previously unpublished photographs of the ties, smoke, and dapper gals and gents who turned up for a chance to win! Most of all, it goes to show a great suit or a fine pair of sunglasses are vital tools for any auction scenario. Scenarios in general, really.

Today, Ripley’s Believe it Or Not! is the fastest growing museum chain world-wide with destinations popping up all over the globe. The latest addition to the Ripley enterprise is going to be a 130,000 sq.ft. aquarium, featuring a 1, 500, 000 gallon tank of water-  making it one of North America’s largest, right here in Toronto!

The site will feature and breed endangered and rare exotic water life from around the Globe, and is set to open in 2013. {Visit the website for more details!}

Enjoy the vintage musings!

Sincerely,

{theEye}

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3 thoughts on “{STYLE WISE} – 1940s Metropolitan Treasure Hunters

  1. Love these photographs, my great aunt bought some things from this auction, and now i own one of them, and i can see it in one of the photos! How can i get copies of these pictures, would be great to have.

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    • Margaret, that is absolutely fantastic! I can’t believe your aunt was lucky enough to attend such a historic affair. And on top of that, to own a piece of it is beyond.

      Yes, I would be happy to send you any of the files that you need. Once I send them to you, you can always have them printed.

      I initially found the collection of the LIFE Magazine website, but it seems to be no longer in existence, strangely, but I would be happy to send you the files via email. All I need is the address.

      Email me at the.eye.of.faith@gmail.com and we can figure something out.

      Sincerely,

      {theEye}
      +

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