Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction

Bonnie Parker’s snake ring, “Yellow Submarine” bell, and an antique dildo

Lot 1: She’s a Cold-Hearted Snake

What does it say about you — or your intended — if your promise ring features a three-headed snake? Bonnie Parker, already married to an imprisoned murderer, received this jewel-studded token of affection from her ex-con boyfriend, Clyde Barrow. As a pair, Bonnie & Clyde, were notorious bank robbers and cop killers in the early 1930s. Clyde crafted this ring for Bonnie during one of his brief stints in jail. He engraved his personal hallmark, a musical note struck by an arrow, inside the silver-toned band.

Courtesy of RR Auction

These two were unlucky in love. Following a crime spree that left several of their gang dead or captured, Sheriff Smoot Schmid (say that five times fast) and his deputies ambushed the couple in Texas on November 22, 1933 — but they escaped. From Bonnie and Clyde’s bullet-riddled Ford, the deputies claimed some booty: this ring, lipstick cases, and other personal effects. Schmid kept the ring for himself. Law enforcement officials finally succeeded in dispatching the infamous duo on May 23, 1934.

At $40,000, this incredible artifact might make a perfect engagement or vow-renewal ring, for the right power couple — say, Frank and Claire Underwood? It goes to auction in Boston on June 24.

Lot 2: Ahoy, Beatles!

A few days after John, Paul, George, and Ringo recorded the song, “Yellow Submarine,” at Abbey Road Studios on May 26, 1966, their producer George Martin thought it needed more zing. Or ding, as it were. He rummaged through the studio’s prop closet and found this cast brass ship’s bell — and, apparently, a whistle and an old-fashioned cash register — which he “used to provide unusual sound effects on a nautical theme.”

Courtesy of Bonhams

All that according to Bonhams in London, which will auction the bell with Fab Four provenance on June 28. In very British speak, the auctioneer added, “The ‘Special Effects Cupboard’ became redundant,” in 1983, and the bell was given away, accompanied by a letter of authenticity from the studio’s former chairman.

Beatle-crazed Boomers will be queuing up to bid the $9,000+ it will take to get it.

Lot 3: “Lady’s Companion”

Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions

Coming up at an “erotica sale” in London on June 29 is this “Lady’s Oriental Companion,” a euphemism not for a fine rug or an Asian lover but for this chiseled stone dildo. We are offered no clues as to its origins, but the naughty antique measures about eleven inches and features a stylized eagle’s head at its base. After all, nothing evokes pleasure more than a fierce bird of prey. Housed in a leather clamshell case (pun intended?), the sex toy is valued at $250–350. If you’re a connoisseur, a second soapstone penis of similar size can also be had.

Further examine this auction’s catalog and you’ll find all manner of sensual art and photography, such as the randy painting seen below, applied directly to fore edge of a circa 1850 edition of Henry Kirke White’s posthumous poems and letters.

Courtesy of Bloomsbury Auctions

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