03/09/2012 12:15 pm ET Updated Mar 09, 2012

Weird Crime Collectibles Include Gory Photos, Creepy Mug Shots And A Real Ball And Chain (VIDEO)


Huffington Post reporter David Lohr doesn't just write about crime, he is also a collector.

So when he saw a vintage pair of rare rusty handcuffs from 1899 at Obscura Oddities And Antiques, a New York-based antiques shop focusing on the bizarre, he didn't hesitate to reach into his wallet and purchase a truly unique souvenir of his trip to the Big Apple.

"When I was in [the store], I saw these and thought they would make an awesome addition to my collection," Lohr told HuffPost Weird News. "They were somewhat revolutionary in that they could change the locking mechanism."

Mike Zohn, co-owner of Obscura and co-host of the Science Channel series "Oddities," sold the cuffs to Lohr and says earlier versions of cuffs used a screw, which made them very inconvenient when trying to put them on a squirming suspect.

Zohn also says that crime artifacts like these are quite a customer draw.

"Oh yeah, we get old manacles, shackles, restraints. They're quite popular," he told HuffPost Weird News.

Evan Michelson, his co-owner and show co-star, says that the people who buy such items aren't just putting them on a shelf.

"They're objects of punishment and play," she told HuffPost Weird News. "Of course, we always include a key -- that's very important when selling a pair of handcuffs."

Not that one is always available.

"There are times when we can't find a key," she said. Fortunately in Lohr's case, "This is a very simple key and we will often find one that will work."

Another crime artifact that is very popular is the old ball and chain commonly seen in 1930s prison movies, but they are not all created equal.

First, they range in size between 12 and 50 pounds and, second, they are often faked, Zohn said.

"You can tell the new ones because they have things printed like 'Alcatraz,'" he explained.

"Oddities" has its midseason finale on March 10.