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Up to the 19th Century mentally ill people were sometimes chained naked in squalid conditions in places like London’s Bethlehem hospital which became synonymous with chaos (its name being contracted to bedlam) and where tourists would pay to see the freak show. Then came the extreme rationalism of the Kirkbride plan which created a very unusual form of architecture for asylums throughout the Anglosphere that was used until the 20th Century. As a result of their demise, most are abandoned ruins today, giant, rotting testimonies to a bygone era of clinical Victorian discipline combined with neo-Gothic extravagance.The Kirkbride plan consists of an enormous a symmetrical staggered wing, like a bird made out of lego. Men are on the left and women on the right in wings that radiate from the main entrance for increasingly violent or incurable patients. Early mental institutions where patients had to pay for their own incarceration would also vary in class (rich to poor) on the y axis. The staggering of the wings ensured the flow of air through each, purging them of diseased vapors perhaps, such was the Victorian obsession with fresh air, from outdoor Tuberculosis wards to seaside promenades and piers.

insane asylum plans

We could go on about how empty pools, once awash with liquidity and fun are a metaphor for the wreckage left after the credit bust. But then again, there is something cool about empty pools, period. Here are our faves.

abandoned pools

One of the benefits of the tradition of wooden buildings in the US is that they have fairly good tensile strength, so you can pick them up and move them elsewhere without them falling apart. This makes for some fairly surreal imagery, particularly in time lapse, since homes are all about static permanency. And we've included one daring masonry building move in the list, just to prove it can be done.

8 moving houses videos

A Sky Hook is an impossible item that interns were traditionally sent out to buy , as a prank. These eight flying cranes, seven helicopters and one blimp, are as close to reality as sky hooks can get. The blimp proposal is actually named the Sky Hook.

8 Sky Hooks

These are possibly the most impressive gadgets on earth, beautifully complicated, polished stainless steel instruments that employ electron, x-ray, and ion probes, often in combination with depth profiling techniques, for surface analysis. They are the instruments featured on the covers of science lab and university brochures and are exactly what I want for my birthday. Vote for your faves.

12 ultra complex surface analysis systems

The Wall of Death ride, where centrifugal (or counter-centripetal as physicists tell us we are supposed to say) force allows a motorbike rider to circle a vertical wall is an iconic daredevil attraction that has been preserved by a few dedicated enthusiasts. Traditionally a wooden cylinder provided the circuit for a classic Indian motorcycle, however vehicles such as cars and go carts have been used in tracks that are now often spherical cages.

daredevil walls of death

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WTF is that? #17

February 23rd, 2010 link to (permalink)

wtf


These are false teeth not unique, but of a type with a sad and macabre history. What’s the story?



9 Responses to “WTF is that? #17”

  1. Indiefab Says:

    These appear to made from another person’s jaw (mandible) and maxilla with teeth intact. Instead of taking animal bone, teeth, metal and other materials and making a jaw and maxilla, these were made by harvesting straight from a person. You would be wearing some else’s mouth!
    I’m not sure of the history beyond that.

  2. admin Says:

    Yes you are right, they are real human teeth. There is a story behind them, not this set in particular, but the type.

  3. steve Says:

    They are a famous murderer’s teeth.

  4. admin Says:

    @steve They are not from a particularly well known individual, and there were many sets of this kind.

  5. Glen Says:

    I’m guessing something to do with slavery or the Holocaust? Something greusome and unpleasant?

  6. Indiefab Says:

    The only websource that I can find using this same image is about “Waterloo Teeth”. These were teeth harvested from the corpses of soldiers after so many European battles. Waterloo alone had 50,000 deaths. Scavengers would scour the battlefields and pick belongings off the bodies. Real human teeth were extremely valuable in the early 1700’s and thousands of barrels of human teeth were extracted from the dead and shipped to England to be used in dentures. They were typically afixed to a base of animal ivory or bone.
    However, I find no reference that says the upper plate and lower jaw were ever removed as a whole, like this shows. I can’t wait for the answer.

  7. admin Says:

    @Indiefab. You are absolutely right they are an example of Waterloo teeth, whether the jaw here is also real, I’m not sure.

    Waterloo teeth became the generic term for teeth made from dead soldiers, a practice that continued through the American Civil War, when Waterloo teeth from its battles were found in mail order catalogs in the 1860s.

    They reveal a time before World War I when fallen lower ranking soldiers were anonymous, people whose names didn’t appear on memorials and whose bones were dug up by companies contracted to grind them into fertilizer.

  8. bradley547 Says:

    The jaw itself is not human. Most likely bone or ivory. If you look close, the rear molars are carved into the material.
    Besides, a real human jawbone wouldn’t have enough material in it to carve a seat for the users jaw to go into.

  9. Indiefab Says:

    Good point Bradley. That’s exactly what my wife said about the molars when I showed her. These must have been the finest false teeth made at the time. Compared to George Washington’s teeth, these are far more advanced. Cool.

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