Stop-motion Scraps

American history, from war to politics, is filled with frightening moments. As Halloween approaches, the National Museum of American History is digging into the archives and unearthing a few of its favorite creepy finds from a collection of more than 3 million museum artifacts.

The stop-motion puppet Scraps, created by Graham G. Maiden for the 2005 film "Corpse Bride," is a memorable creature from the quirky and macabre world of Tim Burton.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

Eerie photography

Two children are seen in this eerie illustration, which seamlessly blends sweet, innocent childhood with the darkness of death.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

Natural Creeping Baby Doll

This 1871 patent model for the "Natural Creeping Baby Doll" accompanied George Pemberton Clarke's patent submission for a moving baby doll. The doll's head, arms, and legs are made of plaster and hinged to a brass clockwork body that imitates crawling by rolling along on two toothed wheels.

A blank stare and cold mechanics make this baby anything but natural. If anything, it's downright frightening.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

The vulture

The origin of this carved Elk-horn cane handle -- which doubles as a pipe -- is unknown.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

Wreath of hair

Similar to knitting or crocheting, hairwork was popular in Victorian times. This decorative wreath is made entirely of hair. People would trade hair with friends, keep it as tokens or mementos of deceased loved ones, or display locks as remembrances.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

Gremlins!

This monstrous green model of a gremlin was used in the 1990 live-action, horror-comedy film "Gremlins 2: The New Batch," directed by Joe Dante.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

Weird winkers

Clocks like this, called winkers, enjoyed popularity in the 1860s and 1870s. This one, in particular, disturbed the National Museum of American History staffers, who cited the "jolly belly, the lifeless eyes (designed to blink), and the oddly serious facial expression."
Photo by: National Museum of American History

Miss Estelle the Long-Haired Queen

"Miss Estelle the Long-Haired Queen" was a circus and sideshow performer. Traveling festivals were popular around the turn of the century. Visitors would pay to take a peek behind the curtains, where people with quite unusual features were showcased as freaks. Long hair, extreme strength, and missing limbs were common sideshow draws.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

Automaton of a friar

This automaton of a friar, which seems as if it might spring to life, can imitate a walking man, thanks to a wind-up mechanism that also makes it creepily robotic. Beady eyes move from side to side, while one arm raises a rosary cross for an automated kiss and the other arm strikes the chest in the "mea culpa" gesture from the Catholic Latin Mass.

This friar was probably made in Spain or Germany and is about 450 years old.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

Jack-o'-lantern bulb

Hal Wallace, associate curator in the Division of Work and Industry at the National Museum of American History, says this decorative Halloween lightbulb was made by General Electric in the 1970s and 1980s. The jack-o'-lantern design is made even stranger as it is printed in such a way that it works whether the bulb is installed base-up or base-down.
Photo by: National Museum of American History

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