Pseudo Corpse Scent

The Sigma-Aldrich Corporation sells a variety of scents including: Pseudo Corpse I (that smells like a body less than 30 days old), Pseudo Corpse II (that mimics the dry-rot scent cadavers attain after a month), and Pseudo Drowned Victim.

The scents are intended to be used for training rescue dogs, but I suppose they could also be used to enhance a Halloween costume.

Their product literature offers the following info about training dogs to find a corpse:

Canine reaction to a body can vary widely. The general categories of behavior are:

1 . Enthusiasm - the dog does not hesitate to approach the body. It may attempt to elicit a response from or urinate on the victim.

2. Cautious Interest - the dog slows its search, may become nervous and raise its hackles, but with encouragement, will approach the victim.

3. Avoidance - the dog will not approach the scent source and may actually attempt to leave the area. This behavior may become evident some distance from the body as the dog enters the scent cone.

image source:

More info: Discover magazine

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jul 24, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, Dogs, Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

X-Radium Cooking Utensils

Here is a fascinating short monograph (a PDF) about the Radium craze, including a discussion of the product above.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jul 19, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Death, Domestic, Really Bad Ideas, Twentieth Century

The Resurrection of Gladys Rogers

When 80-year-old Gladys Rogers died of flu in 1978, her evangelist son decided that he would freeze her body and then bring her back to life with prayer. Her resurrection, he believed, would turn people to Christianity. She lay in an upright freezer as he prayed.

St. Joseph Gazette - Mar 13, 1978

He prayed for two months before conceding that he had failed. He attributed his failure to a lack of faith. "It had nothing to do with the power of the Lord," he said. "The main thing was I can't bring mama back, but I'll meet her again in Heaven."

More info: Springfield News-Leader

Miami Herald - Apr 1, 1978

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 09, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Religion, 1970s

Death by golf and peacocks

Oct 1951: Edward Harrison died in a freak golf accident, by managing to stab himself in the leg with a broken club. As he lay bleeding to death, he screamed for help. "Two other golfers said they twice heard screams, but thought they were the cries of peacocks from a peacock farm."

Deseret News - Oct 9, 1951

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 25, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Sports, 1950s

Death by playing cards

Oct 20, 1930: Convict William Kogut, who was waiting execution on San Quentin's death row, somehow knew that it was possible to make a bomb out of playing cards. This was because, at the time, the red ink of cards contained nitrocellulose. So by scraping off enough of the red ink, Kogut was able to make a pipe bomb out of a hollow bedpost. He used this to kill himself, rather than letting himself be executed.

Modern playing cards no longer contain this explosive ingredient.

Somewhat confusingly, Snopes classifies his death as a "legend," even though their brief write-up seems to confirm that it happened exactly as described.

More info:

Oroville Mercury Register - Oct 20, 1930

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 23, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, Suicide, Prisons, 1930s

The Bisga Fluid Man

He's three-months dead but still looking good, thanks to Bisga embalming fluid!

The ad ran in funeral trade magazines such as The Sunnyside, circa 1902 and 1903.

source: researchgate

source: cult of weird

The historian Jani Scandura offers some commentary about the ad in her article "Deadly Professions: 'Dracula,' Undertakers, and the Embalmed Corpse".

A 1902 advertisement for Bisga embalming fluid finally reveals what is at stake in embalming. The advertisement portrays a perfectly preserved corpse, embalmed three months previously, fully dressed in business attire, seated, and holding a newspaper. At first glance, the advertisement seems to suggest that through embalming one can retain one's middle-class appearance, and thereby the status achieved in life in the grave. Certainly, this was a perception that circulated in mass culture...

But in appearing to reaffirm middle-class markings through embalming, the Bisga advertisement reveals a more ominous truth: because of the laws regulating the use of corpses, the apparent gentleman's body most certainly belonged to an individual who had been destitute. He simply was remade to appear middle class.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 08, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, Advertising, 1900s

The Philadelphia Resurrectionists

Jefferson Medical College is still extant. Not sure if their literature highlights this incident.

Source: The Boston Weekly Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) 19 Dec 1882, Tue Page 5

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 08, 2021 - Comments (8)
Category: Crime, Death, Education, Medicine, Cemeteries, Graveyards, Crypts, Mortuaries and Other Funereal Pursuits, Nineteenth Century

An Experiment on Eye Process

From The Art and Science of Embalming (1896) by Carl Barnes.

The illustration shows an experiment by the embalmer W.W. Harris to test the efficacy of injecting embalming fluid through needles inserted at the corners of the eyes. Harris showed that the fluid would come out the veins and arteries in the neck— and if the head were still attached to a body, would then presumably spread throughout the rest of the corpse.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jun 06, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Experiments, Eyes and Vision

Electroplating the dead

In the late 1880s, reports began appearing in American papers about a French physician, Dr. Variot, who had perfected a method of electroplating corpses so that the dead could be "preserved in the form of bronze statuary".

I suspect these reports were a journalistic hoax. For a start, I doubt this technique would work. Also, I can't find any reference to a Dr. Variot except in connection to the electroplating story.

More info at Atlas Obscura.

Text (and above images) from the Leavenworth Standard - Feb 9, 1891:

Dr. Variot, one of the foremost practitioners in the Paris hospitals, is the author of the system, whose result has been termed "L'anthropoplastic galvanique." His mode of procedure is as follows: He places the body in a double frame, with four uprights fastened together, with square trays, and then covers the frame with a pneumatic bell. The body is perforated by a metallic wire, one end going through the roof of the skull, while the other rests in the tray at the feet. This wire not only acts as a support to the corpse but as a conductor of electricity. The uprights and other portions of the frame are carefully insulated with india rubber, gutta percha or praffine. A small thermo-electric battery furnishes the current. A metallic contact descends from the upper tray and rests lightly upon the surface of the cadaver. The surface of the feet and the palms of the hands also rest upon two contacts, and, in addition, contacts are echeloned on the uprights and frame, and can be applied or disconnected at pleasure.

Before the apparatus is plunged in a galvanic bath the body has to be rendered a perfect electric conductor. For this purpose the operator either paints the corpse with a solution of nitrate of silver or he puts a powdered preparation of the same on the surface of the skin. The caustic penetrates the surface, and the skin turns an opaque color. Afterward the nitrate of silver has to be reduced or separated from its oxide, but this presents no great difficulty. The double framework is then placed in a reservoir, from which the air is exhausted by a pump, and vapors of white phosphorus dissolved in sulphur of carbon are introduced. This is a dangerous operation, as are all operations in which dissolved phosphorus plays any part. After the phosphoric vapors have reduced the nitrate of silver the corpse becomes a grayish white, and is a perfect facsimile of a plaster of Paris statue. The metallization is then very simple, being effected by a galvanic bath in the usual way.

The French capital is greatly excited over this method of making indestructible mummies. Should it come into favor metallized bodies may soon take the place of wax figures and statuary in museums, galleries and even private residences. Not only can the last expression of the deceased be preserved, but various poses produced, and by deft manipulation the countenance of the corpse changed to express almost any emotion. The body of the warrior may be made to assume a martial attitude. The dead preacher could be electroplated in the act of exhortation. Statesmen and heroes could bequeath their remains to a sorrowing nation, and coated with gold, silver or brass preside in person over their own monuments. In fact there is no end of practical or romantic purposes to which our plated bodies might be put, from the pointing of a moral to the adornment of a tale, and even to the portrayal of some striking episode in national life.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 04, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Death, Nineteenth Century

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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