Antique cauldron with macabre history hits the auction block in Wisconsin. You won’t believe the story behind this thing.
A cauldron that once belonged to Ed Gein. Photo courtesy of Pientka Auction Service.
In the world of collectible murderbilia, artifacts belonging to Ed Gein must surely be the Holy Grail. I’ve lived here in Wisconsin my entire life, and have never so much as laid eyes on an object that can be positively identified as Gein-related. Besides the jar of grave dirt in the cupboard from my last pilgrimage to Plainfield, of course.
- Ed Gein’s Cauldron featured on Deadly Possessions
- Digging up Ed Gein in Plainfield, WI
- Ed Gein Roadtrip: 6 Things to do in Plainfield
So you can imagine my excitement when I opened my email earlier this week to find details about an upcoming auction containing a very unique and macabre piece of the Gein story. Amongst the various mundane antiques, the Pientka Auction website contains a photo of a rusted, insignificant-looking old pot. The caption beneath reads “cauldron with story.”
That is a bit of an understatement.
Ed Gein Artifact for Sale
According to Dan McIntyre, the cauldron’s current owner, his grandmother Evelyn Mair purchased the cauldron from the Gein estate sale held in 1958, along with some gardening tools. She painted the cauldron and planted flowers in it as a memorial for Gein’s victims.
McIntyre says it wasn’t until 50 years later that he learned the shocking reality of the inconspicuous flower pot that ended up in his parent’s garage.
Hollis Brown, a friend of the McIntyre family, had been a neighbor of Ed Gein’s. Brown told McIntyre that, after the police had finished photographing the crime scene, they were feeling sick to their stomachs. So he and another neighbor by the name of Howard Lowellyn helped remove the bodies and various remains. It was then that Hollis first saw the black cauldron in a shed, crusted with dried blood and guts beside tubs and barrels filled with what he described as bloody human entrails.
When he saw the cauldron again many years later in the garage, Hollis immediately recognized it. Pale and noticeably shaken, he told his son Carneth about the cauldron, saying that he saw something he had not seen in 50 years, and he wished he didn’t remember where he saw it.
The cauldron will be up for bidding this Saturday, February 28th in Hatley, WI. For more info go to the Pientka Auction website right here.
Ed Gein Crime Scene
Following a lead while investigating the disappearance of local hardware store owner Bernice Worden on November 16th, 1957, police ended up on the Gein farm outside of Plainfield, Wisconsin. Eddie had bought antifreeze from the hardware store earlier that day. When investigators arrived to talk to him, they unwittingly stumbled upon the disturbing truth of Edward Gein’s isolated life.
Gein was arrested, and the state crime lab cleared out the grisly contents of his home. Boxes full of human remains were removed, including what was left of Bernice Worden, bar owner Mary Hogan who had disappeared several years earlier, and remains from numerous graves Gein had robbed. For years after his mother’s death, Gein had been gathering body parts to create things inspired by the stories of cannibals and headhunters he was reading in pulp magazines. Among the remains removed from his home were numerous creations, including masks made from real human faces, a female skin suit, a belt made of nipples, skull caps he had used as bowls, and a human skin lampshade.
The Gein Farm
An estate sale was held on March 30th, 1958 to sell off the remainder of Gein’s belongings. The house, which had become a tourist attraction and made the community uncomfortable, mysteriously burned the night before. Emden Schey bought the farm, the outbuildings and the homestead site for $4,658. Over the years he tore down the outbuildings, planted trees, and eventually sold off most of the property. The 40-acre homestead site, however, remained in the family. Schey passed it down to his grandson, Mike Fischer.
In 2006, Fisher attempted to sell the property on ebay, asking $250,000 for “Ed Geins Farm … The REAL deal!” Fisher told the press he was “just a guy who got stuck with this white elephant” and was tired of the “frustrations and the headaches.”
Had I done my research before visiting Plainfield that year, I would have read Fisher’s complaint about the ticks on the property and avoided a wholly traumatic ordeal.
Augusta Gein’s Crucifix
In the documentary Serial Killer Culture by filmmaker John Borowski, collector Rick Staton reveals a crucifix that once belonged to Ed’s overbearing Christian mother, Augusta Gein.
Ed Gein’s Ghoul Car
Sideshow operator Bunny Gibbons bought Gein’s car at public auction for $760. Amidst controversy, the 1949 Ford sedan Gein used to transport his victims traveled around the state. Fair-goers paid 25 cents to see the “Ed Gein Ghoul Car” and have their pictures taken with it. A sheriff shut down the exhibit when it was on display in Slinger, Wisconsin, and eventually the state banned it entirely.
Where is the car now?
The Gravestone of Ed Gein
Gein’s chipped and vandalized gravestone was stolen from the Plainfield Cemetery in 2000. It was eventually tracked to a band in Seattle who was selling charcoal rubbings of it on their website. It was recovered in 2001, though it was never returned to the cemetery. It currently resides in storage in either the basement of the Wautoma police department or the old jail museum of the Waushara County Historical Society.
Gein’s grave is now marked by the vacant space between his mother and brother, in the same cemetery where Bernice Worden lies, and graves once pillaged by Eddie still remain empty.
Skull Bowls and Skin Gloves
Though it is common to see photos online or find people claiming to own one of Gein’s macabre creations, Judge Robert H. Gollmar, who convicted Gein of first-degree murder in 1968, asserts in his book Edward Gein: America’s Most Bizarre Murderer that those particular pieces of evidence were destroyed after the investigation.
If you are planning a roadtrip to Plainfield, you likely won’t find anything remaining that once belonged to Ed Gein. But you can still see the place where the Gein house once stood, visit the family in the cemetery, and see the old Worden hardware store. I recommend obeying the no trespassing signs and avoiding destruction in the cemetery.
Also, I hear it’s not a good idea to ask for antifreeze in the hardware store.
Do you have Ed Gein artifacts or stories? Email firstname.lastname@example.org