I travel around the world collecting unusual stories and unbelievable artifacts to fill "Believe It or Not!" books and odditoriums. I have acquired over 20,000 odditorium artifacts, everything from a pin valued at $1 million dollars, to a two-trunked elephant, to Marilyn Monroe’s lingerie, to Lee Harvey Oswald’s mortuary toe tag, to a meteorite from Mars.

I am also an editor of the famous "Ripley’s Believe It or Not!" newspaper syndicated cartoon, and Ripley books, a producer of countless Ripley films, and a past researcher for both the ABC Jack Palance and TBS Dean Cain "Believe it or Not!" television series. I have appeared on radio and television shows around the world as ”the man with the world’s best job”, and I appear in "Ripley: Believe It or Not" on PBS American Experience tonight!

AMA about Ripley’s—the man, our history, the brand, the odd and the unusual-- and I will answer you the best I can.

PROOF: https://twitter.com/Ripleys/status/552503615735463936

https://twitter.com/Ripleys/status/552616283536392192

UPDATE- We have to leave to get ready for our live Tweet during the premiere of "Ripley: Believe It or Not!" on PBS American Experience tonight at 9pm. Tweet us with #AmericanExperience https://twitter.com/ripleys

Comments: 132 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

Spoonsy13 karma

What, in your mind, is the weirdest thing in the collection?

EdwardMeyer22 karma

Without a doubt, the weirdest thing we've ever acquired is a full sized 4 year old African elephant with two functioning, fully formed trunks! We have displayed this both in our San Antonio and Baltimore Odditoriums - http://imgur.com/9lHjHO8

sock201412 karma

Have you contacted this guy who would be a good companion for the elephant?

EdwardMeyer25 karma

We have had several people over the years with this...problem. Or should I say, blessing?

Accolades400011 karma

Hello! I love Ripley's Believe it or Not!

Have you noticed any 'haunted' items and/or strange coincidences with your work?

What's you're top 5 favorite stories/artifacts?

EdwardMeyer14 karma

Top 5 - Willard Wigan's microminiatures - items so small you need microscopes to view - all carved either on pinheads or in the eyes of needles. http://imgur.com/0RsXZS8 In general, we like miniatures. One of my other favorites, is the Lord's Prayer carved on a pinhead - this can be seen in our Odditorium in St. Augustine, FL. http://imgur.com/WQ3wytc On a slightly bigger scale, we have five wood carved, full-sized cars that are actually boats! The Ferrari looks fantastic! http://www.ripleys.com/blog/wooden-ferrari-sailed/

EdwardMeyer13 karma

Coincidences all the time - almost every day! Haunted items, we feature in our haunted attractions, but are cautious in our Believe It or Not! items because it is hard, if not impossible, to prove them. Everything we do has to be authenticated!

orangejulius9 karma

What's the most difficult time you've ever had procuring an item?

Do families ever get combative with you about items associated with loved ones that aren't around anymore and how do you deal with that?

EdwardMeyer11 karma

Many items take weeks, sometimes even months for the deal to come to fruition - the Lord's Prayer on a pinhead (previously mentioned), was something we had looked for, for several years, but in general, we act quickly!

In general, families fight to get into Ripley's Believe It or Not!, very often spouses/ siblings donate collections to us, feeling that we are the best home for their relatives' artifacts.

natashawing9 karma

Are there any body parts such as Ripley's famous bucked teeth that were saved?

EdwardMeyer16 karma

LOL - we do actually have a casting of his buck teeth, but not the actual teeth. We also have a full bust of Ripley done by a blind artist in the 1930s, just from touch - Ripley called this "the best likeness that was ever done" of him! http://imgur.com/oHei55L

NorbitGorbit8 karma

What's your annual acquisition budget? do you often do swaps or sells like museums do for art pieces?

EdwardMeyer43 karma

dgrsmith6 karma

You've got a lot of awards back there! Leads me to ask: what is something about you that you'd want catalogued in Ripley's after you die?

EdwardMeyer11 karma

Many people think I first got my job at Ripley's because I had a natural two-toned beard - red on one side and black on the other - divided straight down the middle! The red eventually turned gray, forcing me to shave it off! President Jimmy Carter remembered meeting me several years later, as the guy with the weirdest beard he'd ever seen!

dgrsmith6 karma

Nice! Any pics to upload?

EdwardMeyer32 karma

Why, yes, as a matter of fact - http://imgur.com/dnY9a52
By the way, the guy without the beard is former President Carter.

NorbitGorbit5 karma

(!!!!)

are there other organizations you find yourselves in bidding wars with?

EdwardMeyer8 karma

Absolutely! For instance, when bidding on Russian space artifacts, we were sitting in a row of astronauts and NASA officials. At pop culture events, we are often bidding against major rock and movie stars. At the auction where we bought Marilyn's lingerie, Mr. Ferragamo sat in front of me and Mariah Carey behind me!

thatwallacewit8 karma

Hi Mr. Meyer,

Out of all of the bizarre, and obscure, items that you've seen for the past 4 decades, what is the strangest thing that you've had to turn away from being in the fantastic collection of Ripley's?

Thank you for your time on the AMA. Have a great day!

Edit: Number of Decades wrong

EdwardMeyer14 karma

One thing that I really wanted to purchase my entire career was a Maori tattooed head! These are considered by collectors one of the strangest ethnographic items in the world, but they have been repatriated and are no longer legal to deal with.

thatwallacewit7 karma

I've always had this vision of Jack Palance being the guy who walked through the black markets finding the things that weren't legal to obtain.

EdwardMeyer9 karma

Jack was indeed a great collector, but primarily of cars! At his death, he had over 200 in a barn in Pennsylvania, that even his family wasn't aware of! He also liked to keep all of the clothes he wore on the show, typically several outfits per show!

spinderlinder8 karma

Thanks for the AMA... Anything ever make you sick to your stomach?

EdwardMeyer7 karma

No, not really, but I once did get a tennis ball sized sculpture made from earwax and snot - pretty nasty, eh?!

_-AidenL-_7 karma

How many Ripley's museums have you been to?

EdwardMeyer8 karma

All of them except our Odditorium in Copenhagen!

_-AidenL-_5 karma

I've been to three. One in St. Augustine, Niagra falls and Orlando

EdwardMeyer9 karma

St. Augustine opened in 1950 and is our oldest continuous Odditorium and it is actually in a building that Ripley himself stayed in a number of times and had wanted to make into an Odditorium during his lifetime!

Niagara Falls is our second oldest Odditorium and was our first outside of the United States!

natashawing7 karma

Have any of Ripley's personal items ever shown up on Antiques Roadshow?

EdwardMeyer9 karma

I am not a frequent viewer of the show, so I'm not sure, but furnishings from his mansion in Mamaroneck, Long Island, NY come up at auctions quite frequently. In fact, the huge Ripley beer stein collection in our Odditorium in NYC was bought at one such auction! The auction house did not know their provenance, so we were able to get them for considerably less than they would sell for today.
http://imgur.com/KZC6S8A

beernerd7 karma

Do people ever send you unsolicited items they think belong in your collection? Anything noteworthy?

EdwardMeyer16 karma

Typically, they contact us first, but we get lots of things sent to us by our fans! For example, a collection of belly button lint all the way from Australia and a fingernail collection from north Florida - representing 44 years - thousands of clippings, which he made into a working lamp shaped like a thumb! http://imgur.com/KJz0NSw (that's me in the blue!)

dragonfly19936 karma

are these things insured?

EdwardMeyer9 karma

Everything in our collection is individually insured.

Assbutt_Winchester7 karma

What's your personal favorite "Believe It or Not" fact?

EdwardMeyer19 karma

This is a really tough question, my answer probably changes every day, but the first thing that comes to my mind right now, is "Did you know that the common iPhone has more power than the computers used to land a man on the moon in 1969?!"

Dunkh7 karma

I remember the show when I was a kid. Did you get to work with Jack Palance? What was the experience like?

EdwardMeyer14 karma

Yes, I worked as a researcher on the Jack Palance ABC Ripley show - all 4 years, 82 episodes! I got to meet Jack a few times, most memorably at famous Chasen's restaurant in Beverly Hills, where Jack arrived in a stretch limousine with a miniature horse - Wilt Chamberlain was also there and actually tried to ride the horse!
http://imgur.com/VNBcx4q

Dunkh6 karma

Very cool. Thanks for the 40 years of hard work and devotion that led to the wonderful experiences I have had reading and watching Ripley's. I hope you find more weird stuff here on reddit.

EdwardMeyer7 karma

Thank you!

garetare7 karma

What got you into all of this?

EdwardMeyer14 karma

Believe it or not - I started as a librarian cataloging the famous Ripley newspaper cartoon collection. i had no previous museum experience but have learned on the fly. I did read Ripley's as a child and was always fascinated by history, mummies, dinosaurs, and exploration in general!

EdwardMeyer8 karma

And of course, one of my favorite things, has always been shrunken heads from the Jivaro Indians of Ecuador, South America http://imgur.com/mQnRkks

DontGiveaFuckistan6 karma

What size is Marilyn Monroe panties?

EdwardMeyer6 karma

Not as big as Elvis' or Madonna's - 36 x 26 x 36! http://imgur.com/W18Cv89 (nylon stocking from Marilyn's honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio!)

shaddupwillya6 karma

Do you consult with a group about the items you try to procure or do you have free reign to buy what you want?

EdwardMeyer7 karma

We have many designers that always have an opinion, as does my assistant and my boss!

natashawing6 karma

Is Ripley's gravesite in San Jose, CA? And have there been any weird items left on his grave that the museum now owns?

EdwardMeyer6 karma

Actually, the grave site is in Santa Rosa, CA (not San jose) where Ripley was born and he is buried in the Oddfellows Commemorative section of the graveyard. I visited it two years ago and asked the same question. The caretakers reported money often being left on the gravestone, but nothing more unusual.

natashawing6 karma

My bad. I meant Santa Rosa.

EdwardMeyer9 karma

You're forgiven! :) http://imgur.com/ku1bVUT

DrElwinRansom6 karma

Mr. Meyer,

I am a HUGE admirer of the aesthetics of Ripley's (in both the items and their presentation!). What works of art or other sources of inspiration guide your acquisitions and editing?

EdwardMeyer11 karma

First and foremost, I'm inspired by Ripley himself. I ask myself, if he were still alive would he think this 'unbelievable', 'odd', 'amazing'? With our team, we work hard to present everything in our collection as if it was the most amazing thing we own!

natashawing5 karma

Did Norbert Pearlroth, his research assistant, break any records of his own?

EdwardMeyer8 karma

Here's a picture of Norbert from the early 1940s in Ripley's midtown Manhattan apartment! http://imgur.com/hiwuS5W

EdwardMeyer8 karma

Norbert spoke 14 languages - which is more than any other person I've ever met! - and he worked for our company for 52 years! Believe it or not - that whole time, he never had an office!

THcB5 karma

Hi. Is there an item that you failed to procure, and regret not getting?

EdwardMeyer11 karma

Several - a couple years ago, we had the opportunity to acquire a full shrunken torso (female) - one of only four that we are aware of in existence! I haven't given up and hope that we may someday still get it!

I also really wanted to get a house carved inside of a tree, but it proved simply too big for us to handle.

dragonfly19935 karma

favorite snack?

EdwardMeyer10 karma

Another tough question - and only available in Canada - Bacon Hickory Smoked Potato Sticks! But in the U.S., I'll stick with peanuts!

ultradip4 karma

I've only been to 3 of your Odditoriums, and I'm fascinated by all the random stuff! How much of it is replica vs real artifacts?

And why was Mr Ripley so fascinated with China? :)

EdwardMeyer12 karma

Everything is REAL - totally authentic - except for wax figures and the occasional piece that is clearly marked "replica" - for instance, we do have several Iron Maidens, but only two are from the Spanish Inquisition. http://imgur.com/794W0W4,mRgC0Gp (this one is one of the real ones bought by Ripley in Germany in 1928)

We also have P.T. Barnum's famous Fiji Island Mermaid, but clearly marked that it is a fake. Ripley, in fact, was the first person to expose that it is merely a trick of taxidermy - part fish, part monkey! http://imgur.com/3c5uATM

ultradip3 karma

Thanks for answering! :-D

EdwardMeyer4 karma

You're welcome!

EdwardMeyer5 karma

Very hard question to answer - at an early age, he was aware of Chinese laborers in Santa Rosa, CA and when he moved to San Francisco, CA at age 18, in 1908, he lived in China Town and absorbed much of the culture. I believe this experience prepared him for his first trip to China in 1923, which in turn affected the rest of his life. He collected Chinese art, loved Chinese food, Chinese women, and even Chinese clothing!

ultradip4 karma

As I recall, he even had his own junk! What happened to that boat?

EdwardMeyer6 karma

The junk was called the "Mon Lei" - it was the very first Chinese junk in North America. He bought it in 1942, refurbished it, and by 1946 could be seen regularly going up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States from his New York home to his Florida home. It sold in the Ripley estate auction of 1949 and was resold once since then. It is harbored most of the year in lower Manhattan and actually can be rented for weddings and private parties and in the winter can be seen in Mystic, CT. I have been on it twice - it's fabulous!
http://imgur.com/jNs0FP3

ultradip1 karma

That's interesting! Are the Odditoriums ever going to try getting it back?

EdwardMeyer5 karma

Both times I was on the Mon Lei was for the purpose of trying to acquire it, but I am afraid the owner wants a lot more money than we're willing to pay...keeping in mind in 1949, it sold for only $3,000!

EdwardMeyer4 karma

And here's a photo! http://imgur.com/cvFZ6WE

tens_fasc_lat4 karma

Ever procured anything in a not-so-ethical manner?

EdwardMeyer15 karma

Define ethics http://imgur.com/0DvZNAW Certainly nothing that would put me in prison!

natashawing3 karma

Do you have a traveling show that goes to schools?

EdwardMeyer5 karma

Each location has their own 'in the schools' program. I do school visits regularly in Orlando and have done "Teach In" for over 20 years! We do have a traveling show currently, called the "Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not!" which is on tour in science museums across North America. It just closed today in Seattle, WA but will reopen in Houston, TX on February 2nd and be there through the middle of April. Here's a link with more info - http://www.ripleys.com/traveling-exhibits/

just_a_generic_name3 karma

What is your favorite part about working for Ripley's?

EdwardMeyer7 karma

Easy question! The people! The people that make the things we buy and do the weird things we feature are often more unbelievable than their story!

redeyebugger3 karma

Considering the sensational content of the original Ripley’s Believe It or Not! TV show and global interest in Ripley’s adventures at the time, would it be fair to say that Robert Ripley should be considered one of the forefathers of reality TV?

EdwardMeyer7 karma

Absolutely! And a father of social media, too! Tune in to PBS American Experience TONIGHT and you will hear other opinions confirming this.

Random12multi2 karma

If you had a time machine what is something from the past and the future you would get to add to your collection?

EdwardMeyer2 karma

From the past I would love to have a Gutenberg or hand crafted Celtic Bible……but perhaps more realistically, how about the miniature mummified South American baby Ripley called “Atta Boy” that was featured on the cover of his second book in 1931 and displayed in the Chicago Odditorium in 1933, but then seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth…..I would love to find and acquire this artifact

From the future is a little harder, I would already love to get a 1960s space capsule, so maybe a spacecraft that had flown to Mars or beyond?…..

rowshack672 karma

Have you ever had a some try to sel you something you did not wqnt and would not take no?

EdwardMeyer2 karma

Yes, but not to the point of truly irritating me. Most people will give up after a couple efforts and I seldom say 'NO' in the hopes that they will still come back to me later, if they find something else!

RainbowGlub2 karma

In the off chance this thread is revisited... I am SO sorry I missed it because I was in class! I am in my final semester of obtaining my archival degree and in the hopes that you notice this, I was wondering if you had any advice for a soon-to-graduate archivist?

EdwardMeyer3 karma

Sorry you missed the Reddit---good luck with your studies…..my advice to anyone looking for a job would be to do the best you can at whatever job you do. Hard work and dedication will be noticed, even if it takes longer than it should…..Archive jobs are not easy to find (the people in them tend to stick around for a long time!), so don’t be shy to work a non-profit, or a little place to get your foot in the door. Once in, show your passion for the subject….and if you don’t have a passion, keep looking until you find the job that you do have a passion for.

arcticfunky1 karma

I remember as a kid i read in one of your books something about a boy who had something with his brain that allowed him to remember and instantly recall any information he had ever learned. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?

EdwardMeyer1 karma

This certainly sounds like something we may have published at one time or another, maybe in our very first book?... but I don’t recall it off hand….shoot me an email via ripleys.com and I would be happy to do some research for you…..If we published it anytime in our 97 year history, I should be able to find it in our archives.

nunyataco1 karma

Who owns all this stuff?

Assuming it's Ripley's Ltd. is the Wright family still involved?

EdwardMeyer1 karma

The parent company is the Jim Pattison Group out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Ultimately they own all the assets…but different assets are “owned” by different branches and legal entities within the overall umbrellas of both the Pattison Group, and Ripley Entertainment Inc (depending primarily on the country of operation).
The odditorium that Bob Wright owned and built in Newport, Oregon in 1986 still exist. It is our oldest franchise operation but sadly West Coast legend Bob Wright died a few years ago. The Odditorium is still owned by his heirs.

ThatChickFromReddit1 karma

What do you think about American Horror Story's character that murders the "freaks" in the Freak Show to have them put up for display in the museum. Also, I went to the Ripley's Believe it or Not in San Francisco about 15 years ago and it was really lame... have you guys added anything new?

EdwardMeyer1 karma

I have never seen “American Horror Show”—it sounds like a pretty horrific plot---but it is just tv, right?, so don’t take it too seriously. We did a full 100% renovation of San Francisco in 2010….If you haven’t been for years, please go see us again… I don’t think you will recognize the place…later this year we will be changing the front lobby area again….Our space shuttle gallery in San Francisco is one of my favorites anywhere within our system, and the giant shoelace mural of African animals is pretty cool too.

toastedbreadcrumb1 karma

What is your favorite myth/urban legend?

EdwardMeyer1 karma

Alligators in sewers would be one, but I am sure somewhere this has to have really happened… So my absolute favorite for sure, has to be the Puerto Rican “chupacabra” …. I just love saying the word. Believe It or Not! I actually went searching for one in the rain forest of Puerto Rico back in 2005 (all I found was the world’s best mango milkshake), and even had someone bring what he said was one in a large pickle jar right to my office….It turned out to be a carved and painted stone lol. These so-called current Texan chupacabras are simply weird mangy dogs. I am only interested in the monkey-like winged variety chupacabra…. If you know someone who has one, or even claims to have seen one, send them my way…

SandPocket1 karma

How did you end up with such an awesome career?

Do you ever find things in your travels that make you go, "FORGET RIPLEY'S THIS IS MINE! LOLO1LO"

What has been one of the hardest items to acquire?

Have a great day!

EdwardMeyer2 karma

Awesome career? A lotta luck, and some attrition (right place at the right time), but mainly hard work and a passion for what I love to do.

Thoughts of this is mine? yes, but my personal budget can’t compete with the company’s! Many of the items in my personal collection came to me through business experiences, but most would not be worthy of the Ripley collection

Hardest to acquire? 10’ by 10’ 3,000 lb pieces of the Berlin Wall, giant slabs of redwood trees….in general things that are very large always create shipping difficulties that affect the negotiations.

Spaghettitastesgood1 karma

Do you believe it? Or not?

EdwardMeyer2 karma

What are you specifically talking about?….I certainly believe spaghetti tastes good—I love pasta---and if “it” is something in Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, whether it be in one of our books , in one of our odditoriums, on our website, or in one of our tv shows, I believe “it”. Everything we publish is authenticated as 100% true fact prior to our putting our name on it. If it is in Ripley’s you can, and should, “Believe It”.

Jokerang1 karma

Hey there! I've been to most of the Ripley's locations. Which is your personal favorite?

EdwardMeyer2 karma

Very tough question. I really like St Augustine because the building is an old castle and Ripley actually stayed there so it seems to have a bit of his presence there that I don’t feel anywhere else…..but London and New York are our two largest museums with dozens of great exhibits in great exciting parts of famous towns. I think Atlantic City is my favorite exterior façade, and if I had to pick just one odditorium as the all –round “best” I think I would go with San Antonio…..all of that said every odditorium is vastly different and they all have some of my favorite exhibits.

tttmmm21 karma

What was the last bowel movement you took classified as based on the bristol stool chart? http://www.gutsense.org/constipation/img/BSF-with-highlight.gif

EdwardMeyer12 karma

TMI - but we do have artwork painted on what we believe are #6's!
http://imgur.com/xhroucu (Britney Spears) and http://imgur.com/ZYTvw6D (KISS)

yourbiggestfan1 karma

Superman curse, believe it or not?

EdwardMeyer2 karma

George Reeves is by far my favorite Superman…I am not totally up on the curse, but obviously both George and Christopher had tragic lives/deaths. I guess I would have to say I doubt it is more than coincidence, but I do like the word “Curse”!

StrangeBiology1 karma

Oh, I think I missed it. But if I didn't: How many people does the company hire each year? Do you recruit from schools? What kind of training does one need to work at Ripley's?

EdwardMeyer1 karma

The number of hires varies dramatically from one location to another, anywhere from a couple to a couple hundred, most are seasonal, or part-time. Yes we recruit from schools, especially for our aquariums and our head office in Orlando……training of course depends totally on what kind of job you are seeking….the most hires on a regular basis would be for front line cashiers, but aquariums need everything from glass cleaners and fish cutters to divers and full scale marine biologists.