I moved into my dream Victorian home, but I have been spooked for life by what I found under the floorboards
A WOMAN who moved into a converted Victorian home has discovered it had more than creaky floorboards.
The anonymous homeowner said her husband found what they believe is a death mask, a Victorian-era plaster cast of a person’s face right after they died, lurking underneath the floors of their home.
“My husband was pulling out the floorboards and found this death mask,” she wrote on Reddit.
“It’s very much a death mask, no doubt, It’s a plaster cast and I’m sure the person must have been dead (or at least unconscious) because one of the eyelids was very slightly open when the imprint of the face was made.”
She described the mask as being of “a middle-aged woman” without eyebrows. The identity of the woman was not specified.
“Nothing is written on the cast, there’s only a little hook at the back that looks like the mask could be mounted on a wall,” she wrote.
She called the discovery “very mysterious.”
She continued; “The house I live in is a classic Victorian house that was converted into flats a while ago.
“I don’t know how it ended up under the floor. [There] wasn’t anything specific next to it, only gravels and soil.”
She told her fellow Redditors she wasn’t sure what to do with the mask.
“I don’t know what to do with it. Would it be bad luck to sell it? I don’t know how else to dispose of it,” she wrote.
“I’m not too keen on keeping it in the flat, it’s super super creepy.”
Fellow Redditors were quick to share their thoughts on what next steps she should take with the “death mask.”
“That’s incredibly interesting to me. I bet if you have a local shop for obscurities and oddities, they’d LOVE to have this,” one person wrote.
“If your town has a local historical society/museum I’d say contact them and ask them if they’re interested in taking it off your hands!” another person said.
Other Redditors weren’t convinced that what she found was a death mask and offered opinions of their own.
“That’s a simple life cast, you can see the edge of the bald cap the person was wearing when the cast was taken,” they suggested.
“They’re actually pretty common; Many art schools, sculpture schools & special effects schools teach the process & encourage the students to them on one another.
“The lack of eyebrows is simply because they’re usually waxed down in the process.
“Generally, Death masks will have more sunken & eyes & cheeks (see: Abraham Lincoln death mask).”.
Another agreed the “death mask” was probably a mould for special effects makeup or something similar.
“I almost guarantee this is just a mould for someone to make prosthetics for the purpose of special effects makeup,” added another.
“Source: my girlfriend has one sitting on one of our shelves and every student in her class made one.
“Why was it under the floor with gravel and soil? Why would a death mask be? Someone probably saw their chance to possibly freak someone out and went for it. Looks like it paid off too! Hahaha.”
This story was originally published in the NY Post and has been republished here with permission.
THE HISTORY OF DEATH MASKS
The art of making death masks dates back to agent Egypt when they aided sculptors with creating portraits and tomb effigies, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
They’ve been used over the centuries by various cultures and in Medieval England and France were used for royal funeral effigies.
Death masks were also popular in the Victorian era. Scientists believed that a person’s character could be determined by the shape of their head — a pseudoscience called phrenology. Between the 1820s and 1840s, British phrenologist and mask-maker, James de Ville, got around 2,000 specimens, CNN reported.
Around 20 years ago, Victorian death masks were discovered in the basement of Worcester Royal Hospital in England. Just a few years ago they were identified as executed criminals.