Steve is thego-to guy when auctioneers need help authenticating and appraising weird relics, so when Steve's friend hits a dead end on a piece for his upcoming auction, Steve is there to pick up the research thread. They both think it's a scold's muzzle, a device used to humiliate women, but instead of having a tongue depressor, it has a round blade and several screws. Scottish history professor Elizabeth Ewan hasn't seen the like, but tries it on just to take a walk on the wild side.
Steve and Robb take the piece and visit their friend Robb Martin, a metal smith who tells them that the wrought iron and its patina are tough to fake, so this is from the 19th Century, at the latest, and the 14th Century at the earliest.
Research on this device of unknown origin is interrupted by another dark piece - an executioner's sword that is most likely from the Nuremburg collection in Germany by way of a torture museum in Hawaii. Paul Ambrose, a weapons expert, confirms that it is an executioner's sword - some of the telltale signs are the engraving at the hilt, the square tip, and the discoloration on the blade, probably due to oxidization from blood remnants. This assessment puts the blade at a value of between $5,000-$7,000.
Steve and the gang swing by the Black Widow Hearse Club, a group of people who drive hearses and love morbid artifacts. One member says he has a full collection of vintage funeral paraphernalia, and Steve and Stef drop by to see for themselves. Although Steve steers clear of the gross stuff, Stef loves it, and even winds up buying a small assortment of makeup for the dead – that is, the paints and fillers used to make corpses look alive – from their new friend.
After so much time with the not-quite-scold's muzzle, Steve has fallen for it and desperately wants to keep it in his own collection. But he's in a bind – if he can't authenticate the piece, the auction house will be unhappy, and if he can, he'll have to pay thousands just to keep it around. He calls Guido Varesi, a torture expert and museum owner in Italy, who is intrigued enough by the piece to lend his time. He confirms that it was, in fact, a torture device used after victims were taken off the rack – as if the rack wasn't gruesome enough. The several screws went into the victim's forehead, neck and mouth.
Steve has to have this dark device, and though the value was set between $10,000 and $13,000, he manages to outbid everyone at auction for the cool price of $9,000. An executioner's sword and a medieval torture device? Yeah, it's been a good week.
Steve gets a close call on one of his death defying escapes.
Steve takes the axe to get it tested for authenticity.