16 Vintage Photos Give Us a Window Into Our Weird History

16 Vintage Photos Give Us a Window Into Our Weird History

We’ve all been there: trapped at grandma’s house and thumbing through musty albums of vintage photos. We rarely recognize the people in grandma’s weird photos and she may barely remember who they are but that doesn’t stop her from sharing them. But sometimes, when lost amidst the cellophane pages, we cross a threshold into a purely WTF moment. Staring into the faces immortalized in those creepy photos we connect to something lost in time. Still we can’t imagine a world when what we see in those vintage photos could actually be explained in a rational manner. Almost every family matriarch has those dusty albums, those nearly-forgotten shoeboxes clinging to shadows beneath beds and in closets. It makes sense that over the last decade, the internet has allowed a portal through which those glossy skeletons in the closet can escape. Today, we present 16 allegedly vintage photos that give us a window into an alien world seemingly free from space and time. Be warned, the 16th photo is graphic.

1. Semana Santa Religious Ceremony


Believe it or not, this is one of the easiest vintage photos of the bunch to explain. What may look like the best Black Sabbath album cover that never existed is actually a circa-1940 shot of the Semana Santa religious ceremony in Spain. Semana Santa is still celebrated today but it doesn’t quite look as much like a black magik ritual.

2. R’lyehian Steam Train Boiler Explosion


What may look like a German Expressionist nightmare reaching out to grab us is actually a R’lyehian Steam Train, post boiler explosion. The extended boiler flues and superheater tubes are what give this locomotive the appearance of the Cthulu Express.

3. Gas Mask Mania


Gas masks across the world! This series of vintage photos shows that, sadly, there was a time in our history when this actually seemed necessary. The Doctor Who episode “The Empty Child” explores a gas mask clad ghost of a child who may have been inspired by creepy photos like these. Each of these photos is a sad testimony to a dark time in the world’s past. Yet there’s something particularly melancholy in the photo of a child being welcomed to the world through a gas mask by a nurse in a gas mask. The Mickey Mouse novelty gas mask isn’t exactly the stuff of dreams either.

4. The Things We Do For “Beauty”


Somehow, this contraption is aiding in the removal of this woman’s freckles. We’re sort of relieved there’s no “after” photo.

5. Black Magik Car Ritual


AAA used to have radically different methods for dealing with a dead car battery.

6. 1972 Rothschild “Illuminati” Party


This may look more like collage art or a particularly messed-up surrealist painting but this is an actual photograph from a secret “Illuminati” Party held by the insanely rich Rothschild family. Several vintage photos of the event exist but they’re all about as easy to wrap your head around as this one.

7. Raven Sisters


What, this old thing? Normally, I’d say these ladies are getting too invested in True Detective. But honestly, when you look this intimidating, you’re sort of beyond criticism.

8. Big Headed Night Stalker


Out of all the vintage photos on display here, this is the one that looks like it’s possibly not so vintage at all. However, it is massively creepy. It’s like the door-to-door salesman from Pee Wee’s Playhouse except he doesn’t want to sell you anything. He just wants your soul.

9. Uncle Unicorn


No holiday, no celebration, no event ever conceived by a human mind can justify this mask.

10. You Better Watch Out


The demonic Santa has become a modern horror trope since the late ‘70s but it’s safe to say this guy started the trend. He even traded in the reindeer for a donkey that somehow learned to smile. And what do those numbers mean? With a Santa like this, who needs Krampus?

11. The Most Classy of Vintage Photos


I guess years of playing second fiddle to Mario finally caught up with Luigi. But seriously, what is this Halloween costume: “Down on His Luck Pedophile”?

12. How Exactly Will This Help Me Get Better?


It seems there was a time in history that nightmarish clowns were unleashed on hospital wards to lick the tears away from sick children. To their credit, the kids seem to be taking it in stride.

13. A Girl and Her Alligator


This has to be one of the strangest trends seen in the weird vintage photos across the internet: little girls posing with alligators. What was this supposed to convey? Was it simply a nod to our reptilian humanoid masters?

14. And What Are You Supposed to Be? A Diorama?


Obviously some sort of Halloween thing is happening here. But that’s about where “obvious” ends and “how the hell would I even begin to explain this” begins.

15. A Way Raggedy Ann


Calling either of these Anns “raggedy” is a severe understatement. At least we know that Leatherface wasn’t a deadbeat dad to his daughter.

16. The Sad Mystery of the Jawless Man


All joking aside, of all of the weird and creepy vintage photos online, this one is among the saddest and most disturbing. Here we see a man, presumably still alive, who has somehow lost his entire lower jaw. It’s anyone’s guess whether this was through a war injury, a freak accident, or some sort of medical issue but it appears this photo was taken in a medical facility. A wound like this would be substantial by today’s standards so it’s unlikely that this man received the treatment he needed.

If anything this collection of admittedly creepy, baffling, and at times sad vintage photos allows us to value the wonders of our own modern world. In addition, each image serves as a startling reminder that man has always been a bizarre creature indeed.

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4 comments on “16 Vintage Photos Give Us a Window Into Our Weird History”

  1. Mark

    FYI, that “Black Magic Car Ritual” photo is actually a screenshot from “Coven”, the film that Mark Borschardt made in the documentary, “American Movie”. It’s not a vintage photo.

  2. J.D.

    Wow, the jawless man is freaky but sad. I really wonder the history behind it…

  3. G!

    History behind jawless man was where truth was far stranger than fiction. Although I haven’t confirmed it yet, I believe this to be a pic from a reckless time in the 19 teens or twenties where there was a fascination with radioactivity and drinking Thorium water for health. A man drank 19 glasses one day and then his jaw fell off that night. He succumbed to radiation poisoning a few days afterward.

  4. Graci

    the jawless man description was taken from a Lutch Green video

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