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Now That's Odd: Baby Metal Mitts And A Skull With Many Flaps (VIDEO)

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A pair of metal baby mitts dating back to the 1920s.
A pair of metal baby mitts dating back to the 1920s.

Looking for a baby gift that verges on the inappropriate?

How about a pair of baby mittens that are actually metal balls.

According to Evan Michelson, star of the Science Channel series, "Oddities," the strange sounding devices were actually common in the early 20th centry.

"They would go over the hands and the lower part of the arm to prevent the babies form scratching themselves or others," Michelson said on an upcoming episode airing February 4.

The metal balls make a weird clicking noise when banged together that Michelson admits would sound "creepy" coming out of the nursery.

But there was a method to the weird device, she says.

"Baby fingernails are very thin, just like razors, and the skin is very soft," she said. "Babies haven't developed the motor skills that let them control their limbs so while these things look like medieval torture devices, they're actually very effective in protecting the baby."

Michelson's co-star, Mike Zohn, says baby mittens have progressed since then.

"Nowadays, they have mitts, but they're cotton and more like baking mitts," he said. "The metal ones went out of favor because of their look."

However, one thing that never goes out of style is the human skull, at least at Obscura Oddities and Antiques, the New York-based store co-owned by Zohn and Michelson, and that turned out be good news for one customer looking for a skull that was a cut above the usual.

So Zohn showed him a skull with enough cuts, flaps and hinges to make it "look like the advent calendar of skulls."

"There are strings to represent nerves and veins, flaps to show inner sinuses, and hinges on top to remove the jaw and the top of the skull -- even split it in half," Zohn said.

According to Zohn, skulls like this are used as teaching models and says the one that appears on an episode also debuting February 4 dates to the middle 20th century and is "very rare."

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