Oct 17, 2014

Fivehands Curiosity Shoppe, Salem

You may want to grab a snack if you're staying for the whole post!

Fivehands board

A couple of weeks ago I finally got to visit Fivehands Curiosity Shoppe in downtown Salem. Although it's been open for at least a year and a half, for one reason or another I've just never gone inside. I took lots of photos and decided to hold on to them for October because I thought it would make a great Countdown to Halloween post. It wasn't particularly busy the day we went, so I had plenty of time to ask owner Christopher Cinquemani about some of the curious things.

I'll preface the post by saying that there are some vintage adult photos in the shop and while I didn't go out of my way to get closeups of them, they can be seen in some of my shots.

As soon as you walk in the door, you're greeted...

Fivehands skeleton

Like the sign in the upper left says, it's real! Everything in the shop is. No props, no replicas, all history! It felt like walking into a Stephen King story or the antique shop from Friday the 13th the TV series. The store is very nice but I couldn't help but get the feeling there were some sinister stories around me. But that's probably just an overactive imagination, right?

Standing at Skelly there and turning left, you can look down the length of the store.

Fivehands long shot

We'll explore that in a bit. First we're going to take in the smaller area to the right of Skelly.

Fivehands corner

There is so much to look at, you really don't know where to start! But with me as your guide, you don't have the problem of deciding where to start because we're pushing in on that table.

Fivehands table closeup

Even with a smaller area to focus on, there is still quite the assortment of objects! The card on that instrument in the middle reads "c.1900 Eimer & Amend laboratory/chemistry apparatus with case." I have no idea what it was used for but here's a closer view if you like.

Turning to the right of the table...

Fivehands banner

Isn't that banner gorgeous? It's actually a local relic. Le Grand David Magic Company holds the Guinness Record for being the longest consecutive running magic show in the world and it ran in the neighboring town of Beverly from 1977 to 2012.

Below the banner is a glass display case with all kinds of everything.

Fivehands display case

Here's the left side of the top shelf.

Fivehands top shelf

There are little bits of vintage pulp/men's magazine throughout the store here and there like this magazine. The piece in the yellow box is Pre-Columbian, which literally means it dates back prior to Columbus' 1492 voyage!

Moving down a shelf...

Fivehands dental kit

(Don't mind the photos!)
While you may not like the dentist, I think we have a lot to be grateful for as far as modern medicine goes. The card on this reads "An extremely scarce gold covered dental kit and articulator. 1920, France." While "dental articulator" might sound intimidating, it's really just a place to attach teeth molds. You can get a better look at it here.

To the right of the dental case is this wicked looking thing.

Fivehands embalming instrument

The shop owner told me the gun like object is used in embalming. It has a long needle that attaches to it which is then inserted under the chin to assist in sewing the mouth shut. Fun! But what's that behind it?

Fivehands humidor

The emblem in the center shows the date 19 Jun, 1887. I thought for sure it was a funerary urn. The owner opened the case and lifted the lid on it to show me it was a humidor! Under the lid is a metal plate with small circular holes so you can insert cigars in it vertically.

Moving to the bottom shelf...

Fivehands cannonballs 

Civil war rounds. How's that for some history?

Beside those is probably the item that grabbed my brain the hardest...

Fivehands occult box

 But oddly I didn't ask the owner about this one. From what I could tell, it appears to be sealed with wax all around the middle. What's inside? I'll never know.

Quickly moving back to the "long" side of the store! Here's another item from the Cabot Theater in Beverly. I'm not sure what it was used for but it is huuuge!

Fivehands dragon head

Further behind it, is an actual coffin and a few headstones. If you squint really hard and look in the upper right, you'll see a red velvety rope. It's a circus trapeze from the 1940s.

To the right of the dragon head are lots of shelves holding all sorts of things.

Fivehands shelves

Perhaps the weirdest thing was this trophy that someone made. At least I'm presuming someone custom made this. It's not something I'd expect to buy off the shelf.

Fivehands trophy

I can't even imagine the history behind why someone made this. World's Greatest (Worst?) Kraken Hunter? The trophy itself (the gold post) is at least two feet tall.

I thought this shelf was particuarly Halloween-ish.

Fivehands bugs & bottles

There's still a lot more photos, including close ups of some things glimpsed in pictures here. Please swing by Flickr and check everything out if you have time. I promise it's worth it! Believe it or not, there's still even more stuff than I took photos of. The shop isn't large but it is packed with so much stuff!

If you want to check out some really good photos, head over to the Fivehands Tumblr.

Before you head off to your next house, swing by Halloween Mixes.
They're posting a themed mix album every day of the month!

And of course, check out all the other folks participating in the Countdown to Halloween!


  1. I would love this place! so many curious things to look at.

    1. I could probably spend all day in there taking pictures!

  2. Very similar place to Obscura Antiques & Oddities on the Science Channel reality show Oddities. Great show, I could get lost in a place like that for hours!

    That Free Mason coffin is interesting. Did you end up bringing anything home with you?