Did Westworld just end my 3 year search for a rare ophthalmophantome?

Worn Over Time
Dec 24, 2016 · 3 min read

I recently started watching the heralded Westworld and it exceed my expectations in more ways than one. When I saw this bizarre bust on Dr. Robert Ford’s desk in the third episode, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Westworld Season 1, Episode 3, “The Stray”

I’ve been looking for that thing since 2014. And here it is staring back at me on my iPad three years later — on Westworld!

How could anyone forget that face and smirk?

It’s an ophthalmophantome, or eye phantom, invented by Carl Reiner. In the 1900's, pig eyes were placed in the eye sockets to train ophthalmologists.

The orbs are held in place by spring-loaded concave disks that push them against a ring of prongs. The set screw at the center of the throat allows the head to be tilted back to various positions (Right Photo: antiquescientifica.com).

There are two other types of ophthalmophantomes from the 1800’s that are incredibly hard to find and buy, but it’s possible. I’ve only seen one Carl Reiner version and that was three years ago on eBay.

(LEFT) Invented by Dr. Adolph Waldau of Berlin in 1889. (RIGHT). Invented Dr. Albert Sachs in 1827.

Unfortunately, the seller quickly removed the item after having a “change of heart.” They probably got a lot of online and offline offers. Can’t blame ’em for taking a moment to figure out what they got and how much folks were willing to pay for it.

Thankfully, the seller took these nice photos of the ophthalmophantome because I can’t find any other images or information about its provenance. On the other hand, the inventor is googleable.

Carl Reiner, Fabrik, chirurgischer Instrumente, WIEN, IX Mariannengasse 17d

Carl Reiner, Factory, Surgical Instrument, Mariannengasse 17, 1090 Vienna, Austria

He’s the founder of Carl Reiner GmbH. The company still exists today developing medical technology. Here’s a screenshot of the company history (auto translated from their website):

Right name, right “surgical instrumentalist” background. Carl’s grandson, Heinrich Reiner II, is still with the company. If you’re reading this Heinrich, I was wondering if the bust is a likeness of your grandfather. And are there more?

Even though I don’t own one or the only one, I have a bit of solace that the Carl Reiner ophthalmophantome is safe and sound on the set of Westworld.

Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford and Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe. (Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO)

Shout out to the Westworld prop master, set decorator, and buyers. Dr. Ford’s office/museum is fun to pause and admire.

Have fun guessing and learning about our collection of unusual objects at WornOverTime.com.

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