File this under, “People mystify me sometimes”.
I came across a brief news story on Yahoo!News today (which I won’t bother to link because their links are sometimes very transitory) which explains that Lee Harvey Oswald’s original coffin is about to be auctioned by an auction house in Los Angeles. Bids are already underway, and are now at $1000 for the plain pine casket.
The coffin became available when Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, was exhumed in 1981 in order to put to rest a rumor that a look-alike was buried in his place after he was shot by Jack Ruby just two days after JFK’s killing. When Oswald was reburied after testing apparently showed that it really was his body, and not that of an imposter or a look-alike, a new coffin was used.
A representative of the auction house said that the coffin, which was underground for about 18 years, is in “worn condition” and not all in one piece, but that “it would be easy to restore.”
Cool. I guess.
But I really wish someone would explain to me just what kind of a person would buy a used coffin? I understand the historical significance and all. I really do. But the idea of buying a coffin in which a body…any body…had been in for nearly two decades is really beyond my comprehension.
I do understand that there are people who put great value on anything someone famous…or infamous, as in Oswald’s case…owned or had contact with. But a coffin. That someone was buried in. No. Just, no.
If you disagree, I’d really like to hear from you about why you think something like that would be on anyone’s to-buy list. What would you do with it? Turn it into a coffee table? Use it as a hope chest? Sleep in it? I suppose a museum might buy it and display it as an historical curiosity, but I tend to doubt that will happen.
As an afterward, and along these lines, if you’re interested in a meditation on the idea of items that have been possessed by famous people or that were involved in historical events gain extra value just by virtue of having those connections, you might be interested in reading The Man in the High Castle, a science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick. There are some interesting thoughts about this idea that come up in the course of the story.