March 27, 2013 by weekiwitch
If you look at the very bottom of this ad from FATE Magazine (Nov 1981), you can see that the remains of Gardner’s Witches Mill collection somehow ended up in Florida.
Want to know something? They’re still in Florida. Crazy right?? Is this common knowledge? I have no idea.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m fairly materialistic. That’s probably bad…but I like my stuff. I love my witchy stuff, and I extra love stuff with historical context. The idea that I could own something that used to be on display at the Witches Mill fills me with childish glee.
I spend a lot of time in Florida, and have been able to sort of retrace the steps of this collection’s migration patterns. Allen Greenfield tells a remarkable story about his search in Florida for the Gardner’s Ripley’s left overs, finding the OTO Charter and other priceless treasures at the “Old Jail” tourist trap museum in St. Augustine…which might be the most ludicrous tale I’ve ever heard.
When Ripley’s shut down their museums in Gatlinburg and San Fransisco, the collection went to a broker in Florida and… just sat around mostly. They made a catalog of the items in the early 1980’s, but then not much happened as far as I can tell. In the mid 1990’s, the Floridian dealers “Unique and Precious” put the items up for sale online individually. They’ve been on the exact same website ever since, slowly selling one piece at a time.
(Side note: I can’t believe that Gardner’s stuff was in dedicated Witchcraft museum in Gatlinburg of all places. I go there several times a year and just wistfully sulk.)
I’ve put together a crude pdf of the catalog, there are several copies of the real one on ebay (for $25) if that’s your thing.
After discovering this, there was no way I couldn’t buy something. I ended up getting a little charm that seemed to call to me. It’s not much, but I like it. What’s great is it came with a whole packet of stuff, an authentication letter from Ripley’s, excerpts on Gardner from Valiente and the Witches Mill booklet. It also included some newspaper articles and the folder it came in looked like it hadn’t been opened since the early 1980’s. All pretty awesome, IMO.