Deals From The DarksideEpisodes

Harem Belt
Season 1 - Episode 11
Harem Belt

Steve loves his job for many reasons, and one of those reasons is the thrill of the hunt. While scouring a packed antiques mall, he discovers something he's never seen before - the owner tells him that, to the best of his knowledge, it's a harem belt from the Ottoman Empire. Steve snaps it up at $1250, and calls Professor Eleazar Birnbaum, Ottoman and Turkish historian, to authenticate it, if he can.

The professor doesn't have good news for Steve - Ottoman harem belts were incredibly ornate, gold, jewel-encrusted pieces, and what Steve holds is silver and plain. But you never get anywhere by giving up, so Steve has Stef look into the ciphers and numerals on the belt to see if they hold clues to the provenance of the item.

In the meantime, Steve has an event at the Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum, where novice collectors can bring in their dark items for assessment by Steve. While there, he comes across a phenomenally rare piece called a witch pricker - a needle that retracts into a sheath. It looks as though a woman is being pierced when really, the needle is going backwards into the sheath, bringing the woman no pain - a phenomenon which was thought proof of being a witch. Steve offers the owner $1500 on the spot, and she gladly accepts the offer.

Stef soon discovers that the "belt" is probably a Dutch horse collar, and, in speaking to equestrian antiques expert Joyce Mueller, they learn that it was most likely a piece of armor, making it a museum-worthy find and therefore very valuable.

Next, Steve visits Mike Ceci, whose uncle recently passed and left a barn full of collectibles behind. Steve discovers a pair of tongs in the shape of a crocodile, which he thinks could be a medieval torture device. Although Guido Varesi, torture expert, thinks they were probably made as a replica for a museum, there's another expert who says that they most certainly are flesh rippers - tongs that would be heated in coals and then used to do what their name describes. But this pair could have had a very special use: the hollow center suggests that the pair was designed with a phallic anatomy part in mind. Blacksmith Robb "Thak" Martin agrees, and tests their efficacy on a chicken he bought for dinner. The dead bird sizzles, squeaks, and singes as they sink red hot tongs into the meat.

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