The infamous Dybuuk box, which has inspired others to sell haunted items on eBay
The infamous Dybuuk box, which has inspired others to sell haunted items on eBayOld Haunted Stuff

An internet urban legend about a supposedly haunted Jewish wine cabinet auctioned on eBay in 2004 spawned not only a book and a blockbuster horror film but also a rising trend in selling so-called "haunted" items on eBay.

The tale of the dybbuk box has appeared on the internet on and off since 2004 but it only came to media attention with the release of The Possession, a 2012 film about a girl who is possessed by an evil spirit residing in an old wooden box. Her parents seek help from an Orthodox Jewish rabbi.

In Jewish mythology, a dybbuk ( from Hebrew adhere or cling) is a malicious spirit.

The film is inspired by an urban legend recounted by eBay user Spasmolytic. He chronicled the events that he, the original owner Kevin Mannis and several other people experienced while they were in possession of the box.

The box is now in the possession of Jason Haxton, the director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri.

Haxton has written a book about the wine cabinet, and claims that he has managed to seal the dybbuk back into its box and has hidden it.

The rise of haunted relics on eBay

The publicity from the film and book has spawned an online market in the UK and the US in objects said to be possessed by a spirit.

Spooky-looking vintage china dolls are so popular on eBay that it has given them their own section on the website. There are also haunted vintage photographs "with eyes that follow you", haunted mirrors, haunted boxes, haunted Regency-style furniture, and even a pair of haunted earrings. 

A recent auction featured a "haunted old doll" which sold for £108 after 46 bids by mummyrose27, of Stoke-on-Trent.

A haunted old doll that has sold on eBay for £108 with 46 bids
A "haunted old doll" that has sold on eBay for £108 with 46 bids, accompanied by a description claiming paranormal activity

The sale description read: "Need this doll gone NOW!! We hear odd sounds and my son has been scratched on his face in his sleep. He's started to sleepwalk. I've done EVPs and caught a childlike voice talking back! I don't want this doll in the house anymore!"

The seller updated the page to add that she woke up with bruises on her leg and that her eldest son saw a boy in his room one night that "walked by and just flew out the window".

Accompanying the auction were photos of an doll that looked like it came from the 1960s, together with a close-up image of a child's chin that has been scratched.

IBTimes UK contacted the seller but did not receive a reply.

According to several of the auctions we looked at, the sellers state that eBay requires them to list the item as "for entertainment". They also maintain that they are not responsible if something bad happens to the new owner by buying the item, or if nothing happens at all.

The site said: "eBay allows sellers to describe intangible aspects of physical items which are for sale."

Currently being sold on eBay by starcent17 in New Jersey is a "haunted charging box". This silver vessel, lined with red velvet, is also the home of a female "Madden Jinn", a good spirit that grants wishes if you put coins, jewellery or lottery tickets into the vessel.

A haunted charging box that is the vessel for a good spirit
A haunted charging box selling on eBay that is the vessel for a good spirit

This user claims to be a paranormal investigator who has been working with spirits for 30 years. The objects she sells are picked up during investigations. She writes on her auctions that "spirits can attach themselves to many types of things" including dolls and jewellery.

She has 12 items on sale, most of them haunted porcelain dolls that are vessels for spirits.

She claims to have recorded over 18,000 examples of Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP): unexplained "other" voices recorded alongside the investigator's own voice on a digital recorder.

Starcent17 adds the disclaimer: "If you are not a firm believer, your haunted item is not going to communicate with you. The only type of items I have all possess good spirits. I never deal in anything evil in any way. My items have brought me much joy over the years, and I love to pass them on so they can continue their journey."

A look at starcent17's feedback shows an overwhelmingly positive response. A few buyers claim that they have experienced supernatural activity but it seems that most of the buyers were content with owning a doll with nightmarish potential.

"If you did not know, haunted dolls have been recorded throughout our history and continue even today. There are many famous people who own huge displays of haunted dolls," she writes on all her auction pages.

If the haunted doll you bought starts doing a Chucky in your living room, eBay can offer you a remedy - for a price.

A guide by eBay user The Haunted Store advises buyers on what they should do if they want to invest in haunted items. One tip is: "Make sure you have some sea salt and holy water/oil available to you in the event that things turn bad with your item, to bless your home with."