American Dime Museum Closes – Part I

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 11th, 2007

We’re losing another great piece of Baltimore personality. It was esoteric and great and hilarious and very fitting for this city. Maybe it was just too good to be accepted by enough people. – John Waters, Baltimore filmmaker and director of Pink Flamingos

American Dime Museum

Photo credit: Barbara Matteson.

A tradition eight years in the making based on wonders, gaffs, and sideshow fakery going back hundreds of years is closing. The American Dime Museum first opened in Baltimore in 1999, but has gone the way of many such sites. The cost of keeping it open has become too much. It is no more.

Professor Hex alerted me to this sad state of affairs and I thank him for sending along the tragic news. The days of P.T. Barnum, when collecting was at its American peak, are gone. Even the days of the gaffs seem to be disappearing over the horizon, before we little recognized there were lessons to be learned from the way of the craft and the trickery involved. I have taken time to sprinkle within this blog’s Part II the images of the American Dime Museum, before it disappears, to celebrate it while it remains whole.

A public auction, eBay sales, and other ways of selling off all of the contents will commence on Monday, February 26, 2007 – 5:00 pm. Even the announcement is straight out of he carnie days:

LIQUIDATION AUCTION

STEP RIGHT UP – COME ONE – COME ALL CHILDREN OF ALL AGES CHANCE OF A LIFETIME THE AMERICAN DIME M– USEUM LIQUIDATION AUCTION

Nationally Famous Museum As Seen On: The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, The National Geographic Mummy Roadshow, and Roadside America.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH – 5:00 P.M.This faithful recreation of a 19th Century Museum and homage to the 20th century sideshow has closed its doors Behind the curtain awaits…Oddities and Gaffs, Freaks of Nature and Works of Man; Historically Important Museum and Sideshow Artifacts; Creative Taxidermy; Unique Art, Including Original Works By Richard Horne, Betsy the Chimp, Butterfly Wing Painting, and Others; Art and Artifacts of the Sideshow World, Including Abraham Lincoln’s Last Movement; Carnival Rides and Related Materials; Wax Figures; Circus Related Toys, Displays, Banners and Posters; Museum, Circus, and Sideshow Related Photos and Paper Ephemera; Furniture and Fixtures, Including: Antique Farm Table, Antique Display Cases, Pedestals, More!

FAKES, PHONEYS AND THE REAL THING

View Sale Details!

Preview:  PREVIEW LOCATION: The American Dime Museum 1808 Maryland Avenue – Baltimore, Maryland 21210 Preview Dates &Times: Friday, February 23rd 12:00 Noon through 5:00 p.m. Saturday, February 24th 12:00 Noon through 5:00 p.m. Sunday, February 25th 1:00 p.m. through 5:00 p.m.

Terms:  15% Buyer’s Premium, eBay Live purchasers will be charged 20% Buyer’s Premium. Visa & MC accepted. Absentee bids accepted with deposit. Dealers MUST bring copy of Sales Tax license or pay tax. Everything sold AS IS. No children.American Dime Museum Auction, opferauction.com

The framing of the announcement is intriguing: “Children of All Ages” are invited to buy, but “No children” may come to the preview. Too bad that kids can’t get one last peek.

The Baltimore Sun has a long article on the closing and sale, entitled “Museum of oddities couldn’t find acceptance,” examining the downfall of the American Dime Museum and the sale. The reporter, Jill Rosen writes, in part:

Soon, the entire collection will go to auction — every shrunken head, every bizarre biological specimen, every mummy. “To the bare walls, as they say,” says Dick Horne, the museum’s owner, curator and biggest fan. “No offers refused.”

…People will find as many as 400 oddities for sale at the auction on Feb. 26. Everything — literally — will go. The tiny, leathery boots of an Idaho boy who was sucked right out of them and into his chimney in “a strange vortex” — never to be seen again. A not-larger-than-life-yet-still-quite-large wax reproduction of Daniel Lambert, a 793-pound Englishman who died in 1809 at age 39. The Olfactory Recognator, invented in 1918 to retain odors “for future enjoyment (or revulsion).” Then shrunken human heads stuffed into dome-shaped glass jars. George Washington’s eyelashes. The flesh-eating toad from Madagascar (“extremely dangerous”), the homunculus, the severed hand of Spider Lillie, a prostitute who offed her clientele with poisonous spider eggs she hid in a ring. The crumbling mummies will, of course, come with their handcrafted display cases. None of these extraordinary objects is real. Many, Horne has painstakingly crafted of wood, wire cloth and glue. As he likes to say: “They’re better than real.”– Jill Rosen, The Baltimore Sun

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman

Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct).

Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015.

Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.


One Response to “American Dime Museum Closes – Part I”

  1. brianinja responds:

    Living in Baltimore, I had the chance to visit the Dime Museum a few times before it fell on hard times within the last year or so. Of particular interest to visitors of this web site, there were a number of cryptozoological/biofortean exhibits and attractions including the Jersey Devil, Madagascar Flesh-Eating Toad, Fiji Mermaids, Alligator Boy, Chupacabras, Jackalope, Jenny Haniver, fur-bearing fish, giant mummies, skeletal sea wurm and much more. I’ve some photos of the above mentioned exhibits posted now in Part II.




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