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Instead of having those pets taxidermied, owners will have Cohn put their skeletons together, often in a pose of the animal’s favorite activity, whether it’s Fluffy the cat sleeping by the fire or Fido the dog leaping for a ball.“What I’m doing is I’m trying to help respect these pets,” he says.“What I love about this business is you wake up at 1 in the morning to get somewhere by 3 so that you can be there before everyone else,” he says. You’re just going there with the hopes of finding the holy grail of antiques that you’ve always been looking for. I clearly am.” When Cohn walked into Obscura 12 years ago, he knew he’d found kindred spirits in Zohn and Michelson, who are also drawn to the macabre and bizarre side of Victorian antiques.“And then, you might walk away with one of the most amazing treasures on earth, or you might walk away with absolutely nothing. He found he was spending all his money in the shop, so he started selling them pieces he’d unearthed.

Being a curious teen, he was morbidly fascinated with the corpses and would bring them home to study and incorporate into art projects.

People would keep reminders of mortality, like Victorian death photos, known as “memento mori.” Naturally, Cohn is a big fan of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, which houses a huge collection of specimens with curious deformities and antique medical devices.

In the spirit of the Mütter, Cohn recently purchased a rather freaky two-bodied pig in a specimen jar and a “beyond rare” elongated human skull—his personal holy grail.

“But it happened to be very close to where I grew up, so I just said, ’Screw it, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll at least get to go say hi to my mom.’ But sure enough, we find this old, creepy house off a side street, and this lady had it sitting right on her porch: a Victorian human skeleton in its coffin, with Oddfellows symbols all over it.

It was clearly a medical one with nice brass hardware.

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