a shop or venue for the sale or display of oddities or oddments
This humorous noun is composed of oddit-, as in oddity, and the suffix -orium, after auditorium and perhaps also after emporium, meaning a large retail store selling a wide variety of goods.
It was mentioned by Robert Shackleton (1860-1923) and Elizabeth Shackleton (1871-1936) in Touring Great Britain (1920):
We came to Kingston-on-the-Thames, with its ancient king’s stone which out-claims that of Scone as to antiquity of king-crowning; and we found Kingston an agreeable place, with a great deal of the very old, but most of it was so fresh with paint and prosperity as to seem pretty and new, and we found passageways with queer, quaint gables, and in a draper’s shop, and in constant daily use, we came upon an ancient and beautiful oak staircase really fit for a palace, and we happened upon an “odditorium,” a delightful name adopted by a very shabby shop in a very narrow lane where we found some very attractive bits of old silver and china.
The following was published in the column The Lighter Side of the Nottingham Evening Post of Friday 27th March 1925:
Old Trade’s New Name.
The recent birthday week of one of the great London stores has reminded us how business methods have smartened up of late (writes a Manchester Guardian correspondent). And the smartening up process has trickled through to every grade of society.
Only last week, the local rag-and-bone man, stung by the spirit of the times, removed his modest board with its simple inscription “Old bottles,” and placed in its stead a big, brightly painted sign, bearing in large letters the words “Ben Smith—Odditorium.”
The noun had already occurred, with a different meaning, in The Publishers’ Weekly: American Book-Trade Journal (New York) of 16th July 1904:
Catalogue of New and Second-Hand Books.—J. Francis Ruggles, Bronson, Mich., Bibliotalko, being the thirty-third annual message issued by the genial bibliopoloexperto from his bibliocurioidealorium, otherwise known as the “Odditorium that Frank Built.” This issue contains a list of Biblioetcetera desiderata, and some obligato solid chunks of wisdom, etc.
In the following, from the column Day by Day of the Evening Telegraph and Post (Dundee) of Thursday 11th April 1918, odditorium has yet a different meaning:
“They call it the auditorium,” said a visitor, looking round the “house” at a London theatre, “but from the job lot of humanity assembled I think it should be named the ‘odditorium.’”
And the Berwick Advertiser of Thursday 11th August 1949 published this advertisement:
At the FAIRGROUND WOOLER
FOR THE FIRST TIME
A Super Sensation
● ● ●
Grotesque Man-Made Monster
● ● ●
With OMETTE Commentator
OMI has been a Feature Attraction with Bertram Mills Circus, London ● Cirque Pinder, France ● Barnum and Bailey’s, New York ● Luna Park, Paris ● Ripley’s Odditorium Theatre, Broadway, New York ● Belle Vue, Manchester
FRIDAY TO MONDAY, AUGUST 12, 13, 15