Nov. 04, 2010
Returning Series
30 min.
Discovery Channel TV Network

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Oddities dives into the weird world of strange and extraordinary science artifacts through the eyes of the proprietors of Manhattan's Obscura Antiques & Oddities.

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Ryan Matthew

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Ryan Matthew has been an avid collector since he was a child, starting with the items he found in the woods he grew up in and kept as relics. From there, he progressed to baseball cards, then horror-movie props, and finally into the type of collecting he is interested in now: Victorian taxidermy, skulls, skeletons and the early industrial lighting that fills his apartment.

As a young man, Ryan harbored a strong interest in the medical field, exploring human and animal structure through his extensive medical-related illustrations. The next step? Taxidermy, which he not only collected, but began to make himself, finding the skeletons of animals his dog "had previously maimed," cleaning and trying to re-articulate them. That, says Matthew, soon turned into "being given bags of exotic disarticulated skeletons and 'figuring' them out by studying the particular animal I was working on." His passion for osteology (the study of bones) as well as for Victorian taxidermy endures, and he has been known to buy human skulls (OK, at least one) off Craiglist, disassemble them, then re-articulate them as "exploded" (or Beauchene) skulls.

Today, as buyer for Obscura Antiques & Oddities, Ryan travels a lot, scouring flea markets, auctions, the Web and yard sales ... when people aren't just bringing him cool stuff to consider. His greatest find so far? Mr. Woofles, a Victorian taxidermied house dog in a museum case that he won at an auction after a long, rainy drive and an extended battle with fellow buyers. And, yes, he frequently buys an item for Obscura — a Victorian glass dome, for example — that he can't do without for his extensive personal collection.

Finally, Ryan's Holy Grail of Oddities? Perhaps something from the legendary Mr. Potter's Museum of Curiosities. "There was an amazing anthropomorphic diorama of taxidermy kittens having a tea party that I would most likely faint if given the chance to buy."

Wish him luck.

Episode Screenshots

01x06 - Four-Legged Chicken
Season 1, Episode 06
02x06 - Edison's Monstrous Creation
Season 2, Episode 06
02x07 - The Horaffe
Season 2, Episode 07
04x01 - Return to Holly-Odd
Season 4, Episode 01
[More Episodes]

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