When you make your living selling bizarre items, it's hard to be shocked -- unless, of course, you're looking at the death mask of a two-headed baby.
That strange item stopped Evan Michelson and Mike Zohn in their tracks recently when they were looking for a special item for an artist who creates lifelike wax models and needed a death mask for inspiration.
Michelson and Zohn own Obscura Antiques & Oddities, a New York City store that specializes in one-of-a-kind artifacts such as monkey race cars, possessed ventriloquist dummies and artworks made of human hair.
Even after years of buying and selling the world's most bizarre items, Michaelson and Zohn were shocked by the sight of the two-headed baby death mask shown to them by Mike Drake, a well-known mask collector.
"That's pretty creepy," Zohn said. "It's probably a little too much inspiration [for the client]. She wants something a little more ... traditional."
Drake then offered an alternative death mask, one known in French as "L'Inconnue de la Seine," or "Unknown Woman of the Seine."
"I believe it was around 1880, this woman drowned and, when they pulled her out from the river, they couldn't identify her," Drake said. "So they made a cast of her face for the purpose of identifying her later on. And it was unusual because she was smiling."
Drake said that the death mask was considered so beautiful that many copies were made and displayed in homes.
"What's interesting is that she's been called the 'most kissed woman in the world,' because this is the face they used to make the first Resusci Anne doll," Drake said. "So if you took a CPR class, these are the lips you kissed."
Both death masks will be seen on the June 2 season premiere of the Science Channel series "Oddities."