Carrie Fisher's Vintages and Jack the Ripper's Postcard

Curious objects at auction.

Lot 1: Shockaholic  

Courtesy of Profiles in History

Carrie Fisher owned a creepy vintage shock therapy machine, and, now, one avid fan with $500 can have his or her turn with the felt-covered electrodes when Fisher’s collection goes to auction on October 7 in California. Readers of Fisher’s 2011 memoir, Shockaholic, will recall that she was a proponent of electroconvulsive therapy to treat depression. Probably not with this machine, though.

The three-day auction event features the collections of Fisher and her movie star mother, Debbie Reynolds, both eclectic collectors. Another fave is Fisher’s personal 1971 yearbook from her freshman year at Beverly Hills High, annotated by her and her friends, estimated at a mere $300-500. How was your yearbook photo? Hers is dreamy.  

Courtesy of Profiles in History

Like the Patrick Swayze auction back in April, it is impossible to pick just one highlight from this celebrity estate sale, considering the volume of stuff on offer—the Star Wars merch alone!—but here’s one final pick for the antique typewriter aficionados out there: an Underwood No. 5 from the classic movie, Citizen Kane. Reynolds acquired it in 1970 and put in on display at her now defunct museum in Las Vegas. Bidders should be prepared to plunk down about $20,000.

Courtesy of Profiles in History


Lot 2: Jumbo Tells All

Insert a penny, collect a fortune. That’s the clever idea behind the c. 1899 Roover Bros. Elephant Wonder Jumbo Fortune Teller, an arcade machine depicting a clairvoyant elephant. Once the coin drops, the pachyderm in a frilly frock shuffles through her book of fortunes before sealing your fate.

According to the auctioneer, this is “Possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a extremely rare arcade machine of this caliber.” The auction estimate of $150,000-250,000 reflects that, but seeing as this October 21 sale will be held in Las Vegas, finding someone with deep pockets and eccentric taste ought not to be a problem.

Courtesy of Morphy Auctions


Lot 3: Wish You Weren’t Here

One thing is clear from the postcard thought to be written by the infamous murderer Jack the Ripper: the author wasn’t keen on punctuation or sentence structure.

Courtesy of Grand Auctions

The postcard mailed to the Ealing Police Station on October 29, 1888 reads as follows: “Beware there is two women I want here they are bastards, and I mean to have them with my knife is still in good order it is a students knife and I hope you liked the half of kidney. I am Jack the Ripper.”

Though many such anonymous confessions were made, this one was once part of the official Metropolitan Police file, where it remained until the case closed (unsolved). In 1966, it was gifted to an officer who was leaving the force, and then turned up among his papers when he died. Now it heads to auction in Folkestone, England, on October 9.


Rebecca Rego Barry is the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places.