Guillotine and electric chair up for sale in grisly auction


Auction items

The grisly items have seen the last moments of people’s lives before they were executed but could now become morbid conversation pieces in collectors’ homes.

The execution instruments are being auctioned off by American auction house Heritage and are tipped to sell for a combined £17,000 ($22,000).

The 8ft tall guillotine is made from wood and metal and fitted with a sharp 40lb metal blade still capable of decapitation.

Although they are most commonly associated with the French Revolution of 1789, this model is believed to date from as recently as the early 20th century and was used either in France or one of its colonies.

It is valued at £9,300 ($12,000).

The electric chair once belonged to a retired prison guard who removed it from a jail in Pennsylvania, US, in around 1940, when they introduced an upgraded model.

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It is made of oak and has leather restraints for the prisoner’s wrists and legs with the original buckles.

There are also adjustable metal restraints to hold the prisoner’s shoulders in place.

Electric chair

A panel in the seat can be removed, as was done before executions when a bucket would be placed below it for prisoners who needed the toilet.

The items have been consigned for sale by an American private collector.

Tom Slater, expert at Heritage, said: «While guillotines and electric chairs not surprisingly appear for sale very seldom, it is not unusual for macabre items — antique torture devices for example — to be offered for sale.

«There is also great demand for blood relics, such as Lincoln’s bloody collar, which we sold some years ago, or swatches of the blood-stained leather upholstery from the automobile in which JFK was riding when he was assassinated.

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«Why is there such collector interest in such items, which many would view as gruesome? 

«Undoubtedly there are many factors in the appeal of these objects, but perhaps one might be that they evoke such powerful imagery that they bring the events with which they are associated to life with an intensity not provided by more mundane artifacts.» 

The guillotine remained France’s standard method of execution until the abolition of capital punishment in 1981.

The last person to be executed in France was Hamida Djandoubi who kidnapped, tortured and murdered his former girlfriend Élisabeth Bousquet.

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