Curious Curator Jesse Van Deinse



Jesse Van Deinse is a collector and dealer of curious objects, and his passion dwells in the dark and bizarre — things that can often trigger nightmares. His shop in Dover called Memento Mori Eclectic Antiques is where many of his artifacts are displayed, but the vast majority of his collection fills every inch of his apartment’s walls and floorspace. One might think his personality would be brooding and mysterious. It’s not.

Photo by David Mendelsohn

In his own words:

  • I’ve always found innovators like P.T. Barnum interesting. He brought the bizarre and odd to the mainstream and tapped into their darker side.
  • Memento Mori is a Latin phrase meaning an object that serves as a warning of death, and to remind you that you will die. It also means to remember the dead and the people you have lost.
  • To me, antiques are a reminder of the past and a reminder of death.
  • Though I collect a lot of things, the majority of my collection consists of oddities, perhaps things that might be strange to most people.
  • Lately, I am attracted to things like embalming bottles and equipment, funeral home signs, procession flags, mourning photos and vintage memorial cards.
  • I even have an old embalming table.
  • I have a lot of things that I cherish, but I have a few pieces that stand out.
  • One of my favorites is a magneto-electric home shock therapy machine from 1870. Another is a piece of framed Victorian hair art that was woven into a mourning wreath. They would remove the hair from the deceased.
  • I like the old traditions that were practiced to honor the dead and to remember loved ones.
  • As a kid, I was very interested in the art of stage
  • magic. When my dad was growing up in New York, his grandfather would take him to an old magic store in the city. My dad passed the love of it on to me.
  • TV networks like the History Channel have spawned reality programs focusing on collecting. Now it seems that everyone thinks just because they follow a particular program, they are qualified experts.
  • I grew up in a White Mountains town with a bit of bizarre history — a famous UFO story. I’ll always remember when Betty and Barney Hill came to our school to discuss their abduction.

Don’t be shocked, but this Davis & Kidder’s Magneto-Electric Machine from Jesse Van Deinse’s personal collection seems to be in working condition and comes with directions on how to cure a variety of “nervous diseases.” Sounds perfect for the Trump Era. Step right up.

Thanks to Emily Brackett of Live Free Photography for her introduction to Jesse, and to Justin Cross of Cross Photography for his expert digital surgery skills in transposing our subject’s head.

More people you should know about

A Life of Moments - Photographer Gary Samson

New Hampshire Artist Laureate Gary Samson uses photography and film to create pictorial histories of people and cultures, including Manchester’s Millyard and French-Canadian population.

Shear Zen

Catching up with hair stylist Steven Dillon as he discusses trading in his A-list client sheet for peace and quiet in southern New Hampshire.

The Class of 1968

The 50th anniversary of the Littleton High School class of 1968 reunion inspires a collage of memories.

Cart and Soul

Catching up with Puppy Love Hot Dogs owner Gretchen Peters as the iconic Concord cart celebrates 40 years in downtown Concord.

Murder, I Write

How the unwelcome task of turning an unsolved 100-year-old crime into a play became my obsession.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. Cider Donuts (Where To Find Them and How To Make Them)
    Enjoy a cider donut recipe plus local NH stores and orchards where you can get hot and fresh...
  2. The 10 Best Free Events Happening in September
    Art shows, a duck race, festivals and an art and wine tour: here are 10 ideas for having...
  3. Welcome to Keene's Cuisine Scene
    The city with the widest Main Street is filling up with great flavors
  4. 16 New Granite State Breweries
    Get ready to experience the thrill of discovery. From the top of the state to the coast, here are...
  5. Pad Thai
    In this edition of Cooking with Emshika, Emshika Alberini shares her recipe for Pad Thai
  6. Brewing Beer is a Labor of Love
    The owner of Litherman's Limited is making his passion a full-time job
  7. The Connection between Loneliness and your Health
    Loneliness can affect more than emotional health.
Edit ModuleShow Tags