Collecting has been a popular hobby for centuries. Weird and wonderful objects including matchboxes, stamps, coins and buttons have whetted tastes around the world. There are many people out there who are drawn to the weird and the unusual. The more unusual and rare the object, the more unique the collectible and the more interesting the hobby. Here we have a rundown of five of the most common morbid and morose collectibles…

5 Morbid Items that People Actually Collect


Taxidermists are those who mount/reproduce dead animals for display. Taxidermy can be performed on any type of vertebrate species. It is common practice in museums but is a common collectible hobby for hunters and fishermen. Methods used in taxidermy include skinning the animal, using preservation chemicals and mounting the animal on a wood or wool mount.

The ethos of taxidermy to ‘preserve’ animals, especially after they are extinct, is also apparent in other morbid collectibles such as preserved human organs and the brains of convicted criminals. The Mutter Museum of Medical Oddities in Philadelphia holds an extensive collection of such items.

Memento Mori

This Latin phrase meaning “remember your mortality” is also the name of a particular form of artistic work that was especially common in the nineteenth century during the Victorian era. Victorian’s are famous for being incredibly sentimental and Memento Mori or ‘mourning jewellery’, served as a reminder of death and to project ones grief.

Common symbols used for this jewellery were interpretations of skulls, coffins, willow trees, teardrops and religious tokenism, and each piece carried a specific meaning.

Often the jewellery was inscribed with the deceased name and could vary from brooches, lockets, necklaces, rings, watch fobs and hair wreaths.

Victorian Post-Mortem Photography

Another popular morbid collectible – also known as memorial portraiture – is similar in principle to memento mori in that it was about remembering the deceased. This practice of photographing the recently deceased was especially common with young children and infants. During the Victorian era child mortality was incredibly high and as such, these images were often one of the few – if only – pictures of the child.

Later forms of these were ‘carte de visites’ - small photographs which were exchanged amongst friends and visitors. As this practice has largely deceased in today’s society, it is now commonly seen as vulgar, sensationalistic and taboo, hence a rather unique collectible.

Medical Instruments

Medical tools and instruments which represent early and out-dated forms of medical practice and torture are another popular collectible. These items can include knee splitters, the Judas chair and choke pear, as well an abundance of knives, crimpers and incision objects.

Especially due to today’s society where such practice is illegal and largely intolerable, these items are resonant of an era centuries ago. The more grotesque and shocking the medical practice or torture, the more valuable and prized the collectible.


Another incredibly morbid yet popular collectible is bones. We as humans have a fascination with death as well as life, and bones represent both in a striking way. Consider ones pet for example, an owner may wish to keep a bone(s) to remain feeling close to the animal as opposed to merely burying the animal where it would decompose.

Although a memento or more ’normal’ collectibles such as a photo or collar may still be held dear and serve as a reminder of the pet, a bone can truly signify the life and death of the animal. Many believe it is rather disrespectful yet others believe it is the best way of honouring the animal. In some instances even, such practice is more commonly acceptable such as jewellery made from teeth etc.