Bee on toothbrush in graphic house style

Our top 10 grossest objects

From foul footwear to transportable toilets, the V&A collection includes objects that are odd, occasionally unpleasant, and sometimes plain gross. Here’s our list of the 10 most icky items we’ve gathered over the years.

10. Dirty red socks

Dirty red woollen socks

Here’s something that could be hiding under your bed: a pair of dirty socks – but there’s no way yours are 1500 years old! Despite the strange toes, these were not used by ancient bird people – at least that we know of.

9. Yeti toy

Fur and leather yeti toy

Coming in at number 9 is a toy yeti from 1910, made of real white and brown rabbit fur. Just like the socks, we imagine this creepy toy probably carries quite the stench.

8. False beard

False beard made from human or animal hair

The V&A houses an extensive collection of costumes, including this rather revolting fake beard. We’re not sure if it’s made of animal or, more disturbingly, human hair.

7. Old shoe

Toe eared leather shoe

This adult shoe from 1520 would have been fashionable during the reign of Henry VIII. It’s definitely seen better days, and we can only guess at foot hygiene standards in the early Renaissance.

6. A handheld portable urinal

Stoneware urinal in the shape of a dragon

Yes, you read that right –  it’s an object to pee in when a toilet isn’t available. We feel rather sorry for this 1500-year-old stoneware tiger and its tragic diet.

5. A portable throne, fit for royalty

Green plastic chemical toilet

Continuing the toilet theme, this is an award-winning chemical toilet! This stinky device can be used in caravans, tiny homes, boats or for camping trips. Definitely not something you’d want to spend a lot of time on, or even near.

4. Nails for days

Photograph of a hand with extremely long fingernails

Check out this photo of someone with extremely long nails that look more like claws. It’s definitely not the most hygienic or practical look, but they certainly nailed it.

3. Old chair cover

Grimy painted leather chair cover

This painted leather chair cover from 1660 has a pretty design… encased beneath a thick layer of grime. It may be rare and historical, but would you want to sit on it? Sometimes it’s better to stand.

2. Egyptian slipper

Decayed brown leather slipper

Imagine that someone offered to lend you their slippers, only to present you with this ancient leather specimen from Egypt. Suddenly those cold feet don’t seem so chilly.

1. A ring made from toads?

Silver and horn ring with brown toadstone

This ring has a brown toadstone, believed to cure kidney disease, protect against poison, and prevent fairies from abducting babies. Toadstones were popular in the Middle Ages, when people thought the stones were found in the head of toads – but it turns out they’re actually fossilised fish bones.

Customised blue and white adidas trainers, with comical stick on eyes, nose and teeth dancing back and forth. 

Promoting the Young V&A museum in Bethnal Green, London. A new museum for creativity. Now open, free for all.