It came from your clutter: Elephant tusks

The first installment of our new “It came from your clutter” feature is a pretty good one — and a little creepy, scary, too. (Happy Halloween!) It comes from a reader who found himself dealing with an illegal item that his uncle had packed away for years. The contraband in question was a pair of elephant tusks. The ivory trade ban started in 1989, so I’m assuming the reader’s uncle was in receipt of the tusks prior to 1989. From the reader’s email:

I live in the US but have an uncle in Canada; he was recently moved into a nursing home and I had to clean out his apartment. Among his things were two elephant tusks. In doing my research, I discovered that I could neither bring them back with me into the US or sell them in Canada. What to do?? I ended up calling the Natural History division of the Royal Ontario Museum, and they will be acquiring the tusks for their collection. Now my uncle is happy they will not be carved up for cheap trinkets.

Calling the museum was definitely a great idea. Let’s hope that the uncle’s tusks will find a home for a long time in the Royal Ontario Museum.

For those of you who come across a rather odd item while clearing out a basement, attic, or garage, drop us an email. Also, try and take a photo or two if possible.

Oddities abound

If my parents were collectors of arcane historical oddities, I might not mind the chore of having to go through their possessions at some future date. As I read through the article “In a Father’s Clutter, Historic Oddities” from the New York Times, though, I found it difficult to believe how many oddities Evan Lattimer had to sift through after her father’s death. From the article:

When her father, John Lattimer, died in May of 2007 at the age of 92, Ms. Lattimer knew her inheritance would include more than the family tea set. Dr. Lattimer, a prominent urologist at Columbia University, was also a renowned collector of relics, many of which might be considered quirky or even macabre.

Over the course of seven decades he amassed more than 3,000 objects that ranged in age from a few years to tens of millions of years. “He was like a classic Renaissance collector,” said Tony Perrottet, a writer specializing in historical mysteries who spent time with Dr. Lattimer before his death. “Anything and everything could turn up in the collection, from Charles Lindbergh’s goggles to a bearskin coat that belonged to Custer.”

This brings me to a post I wrote a few weeks ago. I asked our readers to send in pictures and descriptions for any odd item that they may have come across while clearing out some of their clutter. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet amassed enough submissions for an inaugural oddity post. So, let this be a reminder for any oddities that you may come across while decluttering your basement, garage, or attic. Please send them to us through our Contact page, we would love to see your discovered oddities!

What oddity lurks in your clutter?

Clutter can take many forms, but there may be some instances when clearing out a closet, basement, or attic leads you to a dumbfounding discovery. In this Guardian article, a “clutter consultant” reviews some of the odd things she has come across while clearing out other people’s homes. Among the most freaky things she has found are a pickled monkey and a stuffed crocodile.

I liked this article so much that I think we should start an Unclutterer feature that highlights some of our reader’s more bizarre discoveries. Whether it be an unidentifiable lump of mystery mold, a monkey’s paw that grants wishes, or a ridiculous old album that you are embarrassed to own, we want your submissions.

Just send us a description and a photo of your freakish find through our Contact page and we will try and feature it here. The more bizarre (but tasteful) the better. We’re looking forward to your submissions. Also, feel welcome to comment to this post about some things you may have come across in the past but didn’t think to photograph!